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Socialism and individualism, 



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FABIAN SOCIALIST SERIES. No. 3 
Reprinted from Fabian Tracts, Revised 



SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 



THE FABIAN SOCIETY 

FOUNDED 1883 

THE FABIAN SOCIETY consists of men and women 
who are Socialists, that is to say, in the words of its 
" Basis," of those who aim at the reorganization of society 
by the emancipation of Land and Industrial Capital from 
individual and class ownership, and the vesting of them in the 
community for the general benefit. . . . For the attainment 
of these ends the Fabian Society looks to the spread of Socialist 
opinions, and the social and political changes consequent there- 
on. It seeks to promote these by the general dissemination of 
knowledge as to the relation between the individual and society 
in its economic, ethical, and poUtical aspects. 

The Society welcomes as members any persons, men or 
women, who desire to promote the growth of Socialist opinion 
and to hasten the enactment of Sociahst measures, and it 
exacts from its members no pledge except a declaration that 
they are Socialists. 

The Society is largely occupied in the endeavour to discover 
in what way the principles of Socialism can be appUed both to 
the political problems which from time to time come up for 
settlement, and to those problems of the future which are as 
yet rather poUtical theory than actual politics. It holds fort- 
nightly meetings for the discussion of papers on such subjects 
by members and others, some of which are published as 
Fabian Tracts. 

The Society includes : — 

I. Members, who must sign the Basis and be elected by 

the Committee. Their subscription is not fixed ; 
each is expected to pay according to his means. 
They control the Society through their Executive 
Committee and at business meetings. 

II, Associates, who sign a form expressing general 

sympathy with the objects of the Society, and pay 
not less than los. a year. They can attend all except 
specially private meetings, but have no control 
over the Society and its poUcy. 
III. Subscribers, who must pay at least 55. a year, and 

can attend the lectures. 
The monthly paper, "Fabian News," and the Fabian 
Tracts are sent as published to aU three classes. 

Lists of Publications, Annual Report, Form of Application 
as Member or Associate, and any other information can be 
obtained on application, personally, or by letter, of 

The Secretary of the Fabian Society, 

3 Clement's Inn, Strand, London, W.C. 



SOCIALISM AND 
INDIVIDUALISM 



BY 

SIDNEY WEBB, BERNARD SHAW, 
SIDNEY BALL, and SIR OLIVER LODGE 



NEW YORK 
JOHN LANE COMPANY 

MCMXI 



SOCIALISM AND 
INDIVIDUALISM 

I. THE DIFFICULTIES OF 
INDIVIDUALISM 

By SIDNEY WEBB 

Reprinted, with minor changes, 
from the "■Economic Journal" for June, 1 891. 

OF all the intellectual difficulties of Individucilism, 
the greatest, perhaps, is that which is presented by 
the constant flux of things. Whatever may be the advan- 
tages and conveniences of the present state of society, we 
are, at any rate, all of us, now sure of one thing — that it 
cannot last. 

The constant evolution of Society. — We have learnt 
to think of social institutions and economic relations as 
being as much the subjects of constant change and evolu- 
tion as any biological organism. The main outlines of 
social organization, based upon the exact sphere of private 
ownership in England to-day, did not " come down froni 
m^ Mount." 

The last century and a half has seen an almost com- 
plete upsetting of every economic and industrial relation 
in the country, and it is irrational to assume that the 
existing social order, thus new-created, is destined in- 
evitably to endure in its main features unchanged and 
unchangeable. History did not stop with the last great 
convulsion of the Industrial Revolution, and Time did 



6 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

not then suddenly cease to be the Great Innovator. Nor 
do the Socialists offer us a statical heaven to be substituted 
for an equally statical world here present. English 
students of the last generation were accustomed to think 
of Socialism as a mere Utopia, spun from the hvunanity- 
intoxicated brains of various Frenchmen of the beginning 
of the nineteenth century. Down to the present genera- 
tion every aspirant after social reform, whether Socialist 
or Individualist, naturally embodied his ideas in a detailed 
plan of a new social order, from which all contemporary 
evils were eliminated. Bellamy is but a belated Cabet, 
Babceuf, or Campcinella. But modern Sociahsts have 
learnt the lesson of evolution better than their opponents, 
and it cannot be too often repeated that Socialism, to 
Socialists, is not a Utopia which they have invented, but 
a principle of social organization which they assert to have 
been discovered by the patient investigators into sociology, 
whose labours have distinguished the present century. 
That principle, whether true or false, has, during a whole 
generation, met with an ever-increasing, though often 
unconscious, acceptance by pohtical administrators. 
I Thus it is the constant flux of things which underUes 
all the " difficulties " of Individualism. Whatever we 
may think of the existing social order, one thing is certain 
— namely, that it will undergo modification in the future 
as certainly and steadily as in the past. Those modifica- 
tions will be partly the result of forces not consciously 
initiated or directed by human will. Partly, however, 
the modifications wiU be the results, either intended or 
rmintended, of deliberate attempts to readjust the social 
environment to suit man's real or fancied needs. It is 
therefore not a question of whether the existing social order 
shall be changed, but of how this inevitable change shall 
be made. 

"Social problems." — In the present phase of acute 
social compunction, the mal-adjustments which occasion 
these modifications appear to us in the guise of " social 
problems." But whether or not they are the subjects of 
conscious thought or conscious action, their influence is 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 7 

perpetually at work, silently or obtrusively modifying the 
distribution of social pressure, and altering the weft of 
that social tissue of which our life is made. The character- 
istic feature of our own age is not this constant evolution 
itself — ^for that, of course, is of all time — but our increasing 
consciousness of it. Instead of unconscious factors we be- 
come deliberate agents, either to aid or resist the develop- 
ments coming to our notice. Human selection accordingly 
becomes the main form of natural selection, and functional 
adaptation replaces the struggle for existence as the main 
factor in social progress. Man becomes the midwife of the 
great womb of Time, and necessarily undertakes the re- 
sponsibility for the new economic relations which he brings 
into existence. 

Hence the growing value of correct principles of social 
action, of valid ideals for social aspiration. Hence, there- 
fore, the importance, for weal or for woe, of the change in 
social ideals and principles which marks off the present 
generation of Socialists from the surviving economists and 
statesmen brought up in the " Manchester school." We 
may, of course, prefer not to accept the watchwords or 
shibboleths of either party ; we may carefully guard our- 
selves against " the falsehood of extremes " ; we may be- 
lieve that we can really steer a middle course. This 
comforting reflection of the practical man is, however, an 
unphilosophical delusion. As each difi&culty of the present 
day comes up for solution, our action or inaction must, for 
all our caution, necessarily incline to one side or the other. 
We may help to modify the social organism either in the 
direction of a more general Collectivism or in that of a 
more perfect Individualism ; it will be hard, even by doing 
nothing, to leave the balance just as it was. It becomes, 
accordingly, of vital importance to examine not only our 
practical policy, but also our ideals and principles of action, 
even if we do not intend to follow these out to their logical 
conclusion. 

Individualism and Collectivism.— It is not easy, at the 
present day, to be quite fair to the opinions of the little 
knot of noble-minded enthusiasts who broke for us the 



8 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

chains of the oligarchic tyranny of the eighteenth century. 
Their work was essentially destructive, and this is not the 
place in which to estimate how ably they carried on their 
statical analysis, or how completely they misunderstood 
the social results of the industrial revolution which was 
falsifying all their predictions almost before they were 
uttered. But we may, perhaps, not unfairly sum up as 
follows the principles which guided them in' dealing with 
the difficulties of social hfe : that the best government is 
that which governs least ; that the utmost possible scope 
should be allowed to untrammelled individual enterprise ; 
that open competition and complete freedom from legal 
restrictions furnish the best guarantees of a healthy in- 
dustrial community ; that the desired end of " equality of 
opportunity " can be ultimately reached by allowing to 
each person the complete ownership of any riches he may 
become possessed of ; and that the best possible social 
state wiU result from each individual pursuing his own 
interest in the way he thinks best. 

Fifty years' further social experience have destroyed the 
faith of the world in the validity of these principles as the 
basis of even a decent social order, and Mr. John Morley 
himself has told us {Life of Cobden, vol. i. ch. xiii. pp. 298, 
303) that " the answer of modern statesmanship is that 
unfettered individual competition is not a principle to 
which the regulation of industry may be intrusted." 

" It is indeed certain," sums up Dr. Ingram, at the end 
of his comprehensive survey of all the economic tendencies, 
" that industrial society wiU not permanently remain 
without a systematic organization. The mere conflict of 
private interests will never produce a well-ordered com- 
monwealth of labour.* 
I Modern Socialism is, accordingly, not a faith in an 
artificial Utopia, but a rapidly spreading conviction, as 
yet only partly conscious of itself, that social health and, 
consequently, human happiness is something apart from 
and above the separate interests of individuals, requiring 
to be consciously pursued as an end in itself ; that the 

* Article " Political Economy," in Ency. Bntt., ninth, edition, 
vol. xix., 1886, p. 382 ; republished as History of Political Economy. 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM g 

lesson of evolution in social development is the substitu- 
tion of consciously regulated co-ordination among the upits 
of each organism for their internecine competition ; * that 
the production and distribution of wealth, like any other 
public function, cannot safely be intrusted to the unfettered 
freedom of individuals, but needs to be organized and con- 
trolled for the benefit of the whole community ; that this 
can be imperfectly done by means of legislative restriction 
and taxation, but is eventually more advantageously ac- 
complished through the collective enterprise of the appro- 
priate administrative unit in each case ; and that the best 
government is accordingly that which can safely and 
successfully administer most. 

The new pressure for Social Reform.— But although 
the principles of IndividuaHsm have long been tacitly aban- 
doned by our public men, they have remained, until quite 
recently, enshrined in the imagination of the middle class 
citizen and the journalist. Their rapid supersession in 
these days, by principles essentially Socialist, is due to the 
prominence now given to " social problems," and to the 
f aUure of Individualism to offer any practicalale solution of 
these. The problems are not in themselves new ; they are 
not even more acute or pressing than of yore ; but the 
present generation is less disposed than its predecessors to 
acquiesce in their insolubility. This increasing social com- 
punction in the presence of industrial disease and social 
misery is the inevitable result of the advent of political 
democracy. The power to initiate reforms is now rapidly 
passing into the hands of those who themselves directly 
Suffer from the evils to be removed ; and it is therefore not 
to be wondered at that social reorganization is a subject of 
much more vital interest to the proletarian politicians of 
to-day than it can ever have been to the University pro- 
fessors or Whig proprietors of the past. 

Now the main " difficulties " of the existing social order, 
with "which Individualist principles fail to deal, are those 

* See Professor Huxley's pregnant declaration to this eSect in 
the Nineteenth Century, February, 1888. Compare D. G. Ritchie's 
Darwinism and Politics. 



10 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

immediately connected with the administration of industry 
and the distribution of wealth. To summarize these diffi- 
culties before examining them, we may say ,that the 
Socialist asserts that the system of private property in the 
means of production permits and even promotes an extreme 
inequality in the distribution of the annual product of the 
united labours of the community. This distribution results 
in excess in the hands of a small class, balanced by positive 
privation at the other end of the social scale. An inevi- 
table corollary of this unequal distribution is wrong pro- 
duction, both of commodities and of human beings ; the 
preparation of senseless luxuries whilst there is need for 
more bread, and the breeding of degenerate hordes of a 
demoralized " residuum " unfit for social Ufe. This evil 
inequahty and disastrous malproduction are enabled to 
continue through the individual ownership of the instru- 
ments of industry, one inevitable accompaniment of which 
is the continuance, in the commercial world, of that per- 
sonal rule which is rapidly being expelled from political 
administration. The increasing integration of the Great 
Industry is, indeed, creating — except in so far as it is 
counteracted by the adoption of Socialist principles — a 
kind of new feudalism, based upon tenure, not of land, but 
of capital .employed in the world-commerce, a financial 
autocracy against which the democracy sullenly revolts. 
In the interests of this oligarchy, the real interests of each 
community tend to be ignored, to the detriment of its 
capacity to hold its own in the race struggle — that com- 
petition between communities rather than between indi- 
viduals in a community which is perhaps now becoming the 
main field of natural selection. 

In examining each of these difficulties in greater detail, 
it will be fair to consider not only how far they can be 
solved by the existing order, and in what way they are 
actually being dealt with by the appHcation of Socialist 
principles, but also what hope might, on the other hand, 
be found in the greatest possible development of Indi- 
vidualism. For to-day it is the Individualist who is 
offering us, as a solution of social difficulties, an untried 
and nebulous Utopia; whilst the SociaUst occupies the 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM ii 

superior position of calling only for the conscious and ex- 
plicit adoption and extension of principles of social organi- 
zation to which the stern logic of facts has already dnven 
the practical man. History and experiment have indeed 
changed sides, and rank now among the aUies of the 
practical Socialist reformer. Factory Acts and municipal 
gas-works we know, but the voice of Auberon Herbert, 
advocating " voluntary taxation," remained, to the last, 
as the voice of one crying in the wilderness. 

Inequality of Income. — Inequality in wealth distribu- 
tion is, of course, no new thing, and it is unnecessary to 
contend that the inequality of the present age is more 
flagrant than that of its predecessors. The extreme depth 
of poverty of those who actually die of starvation is, 
indeed, obviously no less than before ; and when thirty 
per cent of the five million inhabitants of London are 
found to be inadequately suppUed with the bare necessaries 
of hfe, and a fourth of the entire community become 
paupers at sixty-five, it would profit us little to inquire 
whether this percentage is greater or less than that during 
the Middle Ages. On the other hand, the wealth produc- 
tion of the community advances by leaps and bounds, 
being now far greater than ever it was, and greater than 
that of any other country of the Old World. The riches 
of a comparatively small number of the owners of our land 
and capital are colossal and increasing. 

Nor is there any doubt or dispute as to the causes of 
this inequality. The supersession of the Small by the 
Great Industry has given the main fruits of invention and 
the new power over Nature to a comparatively small pro- 
prietary class, upon whom the mass of the people are 
dependent for leave to earn their living. When it suits 
any person having the use of land and capital to employ 
the worker, this is only done on condition that two im- 
portant deductions, rent and interest, can be made from 
his product, for the benefit of two, in this capacity, abso- 
lutely unproductive classes — those exercising the bare 
ownership of land and capital. The reward of labour 
being thus reduced, oji an average, by about one-third. 



12 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

the remaining eightpence out of the shilling is then shared 
between the various classes who have co-operated in the 
production — including the inventor, the managing em- 
ployer, and the mere wage-worker — ^but shared in the 
competitive struggle in such a way that at least fourpence 
goes to a favoured set of educated workers, numbering less 
than one-fifth of the whole, leaving four-fifths to divide 
less than fourpence out of the shilling between them. The 
consequence is the social condition we see around us. A 
fortunate few, owing to their legal power over the instru- 
ments of wealth-production, command the services of 
thousands of industrial slaves whose faces they have never 
seen, without rendering any service to them or to society 
in exchange. A larger body of persons contribute some 
labour, but are able, from their cultivated ability or special 
education, to choose occupations for which the competition 
wage is still high, owing to the small number of possible 
competitors. These two classes together number only one- 
fifth of the whole. On the other hand is the great mass of 
the people, the weekly wage-earners, four out of five of 
the whole population, toiling perpetually for less than a 
third of the aggregate product of labour, at an annual wage 
averaging at most ^^40 per adult, hurried into unnecessarily 
early graves by the severity of their Uves, and dying, as 
regards at least one-third of them, destitute or actually in 
receipt of poor-law relief. 

Few can doubt the fundamental causes of this inequality 
of condition. The abstraction from the total of over one- 
third of the product necessarily makes a serious inroad in 
that which the " niggardliness of Nature " allows us, and 
the distribution of the remaining two-thirds is, of course, 
itself fatally affected by the secondary results of the 
division into " two nations " which the private appropria- 
tion of rent and interest creates. 

Can we dodge the law of rent ? — Individualists may 
tell us of the good things that the worker could get for 
himself by thrift and sobriety, prudence and saving, but 
no economist will for a moment suggest that any con- 
ceivable advance in these virtues would remove the 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 13 

fundamental inequality arising from the phenomenon of 
rent. The mere worker, qud worker, is necessarily work- 
ing, as far as his own remuneration is concerned, on the 
very worst land in economic use, with the very minimum 
advantage of industrial capital. Every development to- 
wards a freer Individualism must, indeed, inevitably 
emphasize the power of the owner of the superior instru- 
ments of wealth-production to obtain for himself all the 
advantages of their superiority. Individualists may prefer 
to bhnk this fact, and to leave it to be implied that, some- 
how or other, the virtuous artisan can dodge the law of 
rent. But against this complacent delusion of the philan- 
thropist political economy emphatically protests. So long 
as the instruments of production are in unrestrained private 
ownership, so long must the tribute of the workers to the 
drones continue : so long will the toilers' reward inevitably 
be reduced by their exactions. No tinkering with the land 
laws can abohsh or even diminish economic rent, however 
much it may result in the redistribution of this tribute. 
The whole equivalent of every source of fertility or advan- 
tage of all land over and above the worst in economic use 
is under free competition necessarily abstracted from the 
mere worker on it. So long as Lady Matheson can " own " 
the island of Lewis and (as she says) do what she likes 
with her own — so long as the Earls of Derby can appro- 
priate at their ease the unearned increment of Bootle or 
Bury — it is the very emphatic teachingrof pohtical economy 
that the earth may be the Lord's, but the fuUness thereof 
must inevitably be the landlord's. 

There is an interesting episode in English history among 
James I's disputes with the Corporation of London, then 
the protector of popular liberties. James, in his wrath, 
threatened to remove the Court to Oxford. " Provided 
only your Majesty leave us the Thames," cleverly replied 
the Lord Mayor. But economic dominion is more subtle 
than kingcraft — our landlords steal from us even the 
Thames. No Londoner who is not a landlord could, under 
completely free Individualism, obtain one farthing's worth 
of economic benefit from the existence of London's ocean 
highway ; the whole equivalent of its industrial advantage 



14 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

would necessarily go to swell the compulsory tribute of 
London's annual rental. 

It has often been vaguely hoped that this iron law was 
true only of land, and that, in some unexplained way, the 
worker did get the advantage of other forms of industrial 
capital. But further economic analysis shows, as Whately 
long ago hinted, that rent is a genus of which land rent is 
only one species. The worker in the factory is now seen to 
work no shorter hours or gain no higher wages merely be- 
cause the product of his labour is multiplied a hxmdred- 
fold by machinery which he does not own. 

Whatever may be the effect of invention on the wages 
of one generation as compared with the last, it has now 
become more than doubtful to economists whether the 
worker can count on getting any more of the product of 
the machine, in a state of " complete personal Hberty," 
than his colleague contemporaneously labouring at the very 
margin of cultivation with the very minimum of capital. 
The artisan producing boots by the hundred in the modem 
machine works of Southwark or Northampton gets no 
higher wages than the surviving hand cobbler in the by- 
street. The whole differential advantage of all but the 
worst industrial capital, like the whole differential advan- 
tage of all but the worst land, necessarily goes to him who 
legally owns it. The mere worker can have none of them. 
" The remuneration of labour, as such," wrote Cairnes in 
1874 (Some Leading Principles, p. 348), " skilled or un- 
skilled, can never rise much above its present level." 

The "Population Question." — Neither can we say that 
it is the increase of population which effects this result. 
During the present century, indeed, in spite of an un- 
paralleled increase in numbers, the wealth annually pro- 
duced in England per head has nearly doubled. If popu- 
lation became stationary to-morrow, and complete personal 
liberty prevailed, with any amount of temperance, pru- 
dence, and sympathy, the present rent and interest woxild 
not be affected ; our nmnbers determine, indeed, how bad 
the margin of cultivation wUl be, and this is of serious 
import enough ; but, increase or no increase, the private 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 15 

ownership of land and capital necessarily involves the com- 
plete exclusion of the mere worker, as such, from aU the 
economic advantages of the fertile soU on which he is bom, 
and of the buildings, machinery, and railways he finds 
around him. 

The " wickedness " of making any change. — Few In- 
dividualists, however, now attempt to deny the economic 
conclusion that the private ownership of land and capital 
necessarily involves a serious permanent inequality in the 
distribution of the annual product of the community ; and 
that this inequality bears no relation to the relative in- 
dustry or abstinence of the persons concerned. They 
regard it, however, as impossible to dispossess equitably 
those who now levy the tribute of rent and interest, and 
they are therefore driven silently to drop their original 
ideal of equality of opportunity, and to acquiesce in the 
perpetual continuance of the inequaUty which they vainly 
deplore. It is immoral, we are told, to take any step, by 
taxation or otherwise, which would diminish even by a 
trifle the income of the present owners of the soil and their 
descendants for ever and ever. This cannot be done with- 
out sheer confiscation, which would be none the less 
confiscation because carried out gradually and under the 
guise of taxation. 

The problem has, however, to be faced. Either we must 
submit for ever to hand over at least one-third of our 
annual product to those who do us the favour to own our 
country, without the obUgation of rendering any service 
to the community, and to see this tribute augment with 
every advance in our industry and numbers, or else we 
must take steps, as considerately as may be possible, to 
put an end to this state of things. Nor does equity yield 
any such conclusive objection to the latter course. Even if 
the infant children of our proprietors have come into the 
world booted and spurred, it can scarcely be contended 
that whole generations of their descendants yet unborn 
have a vested interest to ride on the backs of whole genera- 
tions of unborn workers. Few persons wiU believe that 
this globe must spin round the sun for ever charged with 



t6 socialism and INDIVIDUALISM 

the colossal mortgage implied by private ownership of the 
ground-rents of great cities, merely because a few genera- 
tions of mankind, over a small part of its area, could at 
first devise no better plan of appropriating its surface. 

There is, indeed, much to be said in favour of the liberal 
treatment of the present generation of proprietors, and 
even of their children. But against the permanent welfare 
of the community the unborn have no rights; and not 
even a Hving proprietor can possess a vested interest in the 
existing system of taxation. The democracy may be 
.trusted to find, in dealing with the landlord, that the re- 
sources of civilization are not exhausted. An increase in 
the death duties, the steady rise of local rates, the special 
taxation of urban ground values, the graduation and 
differentiation of the income-tax, the simple appropriation 
of the unearned increment, and the gradual acquirement 
of land and other monopolies by public authorities, will in 
due course suffice to " collectivize " the bulk of the tribute 
of rent and interest in a way which the democracy will 
regard as sufficiently equitable even if it does not satisfy 
the conscience of the proprietary class itself. This growth 
of collective ownership it is, and not any vain sharing out 
of property, which is to achieve the practical equahty of 
opportunity at which democracy aims. 

Why inequality is bad. — Individualists have been 
driven, in their straits, to argue that inequality in wealth 
is in itself a good thing, and that the objection to it arises 
from the vain worship of a logical abstraction. But 
Sociahsts (who on this point are but taking up the old 
Radical position) base their indictment against inequality 
not on any metaphysical grounds, but on the plain facts of 
its effect upon social life. The inequality of income at the 
present time obviously results in a flagrant " wrong pro- 
duction " of commodities. The unequal value of money 
to our paupers and our millionaires deprives the test of 
" effective demand " of all value as an index to social re- 
quirements, or even to the production of individual happi- 
ness. The last glass of wine at a plutocratic orgy, which 
may be deemed not even to satisfy any desire, is economi- 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 17 

cally as urgently " demanded " as the whole day's main- 
tenance of the dock labourer for which its cost would 
suffice. Whether London shall be provided with an 
Italian Opera, or with two Italian Operas, whilst a million 
of its citizens are without the means of decent life, is now 
determined, not with any reference to the genuine social 
needs of the capital of the world, or even by any comparison 
between the competing desires of its inhabitants, but by 
the chance vagaries of a few hundred wealthy families. It 
will be hard for the democracy to believe that the conscious 
public appropriation of municipalized rent would not result 
in a better adjustment of resources to needs, or, at any rate, 
in a more general satisfaction of individual desires, than 
this Individualist appropriation of personal tribute on the 
labours of others. 

The degradation of character. — A more serious result 
of the inequality of income caused by the private owner- 
ship of land and capital is its evil effect on human character 
and the multiplication of the race. It is not easy to com- 
pute the loss to the world's progress, the degradation of 
the world's art and literature, caused by the demoraliza- 
tion of excessive wealth. Equally difficult would it be to 
reckon up how many potential geniuses are crushed out of 
existence by lack of opportunity of training and scope. 
But a graver evU is the positive " wrong-population " 
which is the result of extreme poverty and its accompany- 
ing insensibility to all but the lowest side of human life. 
In a condition of society in which the average family income 
is not quite £4 per week, the deduction of rent and interest 
for the benefit of a small class necessarily implies a vast 
majority of the population below the level of decent exist- 
ence. The slums at the East End of London are the 
corollary of the mansions at the West End. The depres- 
sion of the worker to the product of the margin of cultiva- 
tion often leaves him nothing but the barest livelihood. 
No prudential considerations appeal to such a class. One 
consequence is the breeding in the slums of our great 
cities, and the overcrowded hovels of the rural poor, of a 
horde of semi-barbarians, whose unskilled labour is neither 



i8 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

required in our present complex industrial organism, nor 
capable of earning a maintenance there. It was largely 
the recognition that it was hopeless to expect to spread a 
Malthusian prudence among this residuum that turned 
John Stuart Mill into a Socialist ; and if this solution be re- 
jected, the slums remain to the Individualist as the problem 
of the Sphinx, which his civilization must solve or perish. 

The loss of freedom. — It is less easy to secure adequate 
recognition of the next, and in many respects the most 
serious " dif&culty " of Individualism — namely, its incon- 
sistency with democratic self-government. The Industrial 
Revolution, with its splendid conquests over Nature, 
opened up a new avenue of personal power for the middle 
class, and for every one who could force his way into the 
ranks either of the proprietors of the new machines, or of 
the captains of industry whom they necessitated. The 
enormous increase in personal power thus gained by a 
comparatively small number of persons, they and the 
economists not unnaturally mistook for a growth in 
general freedom. Nor was this opinion wholly incorrect. 
The industrial changes were, in a sense, themselves the 
result of progress in poUtical Uberty. The feudal restric- 
tions and aristocratic tyranny of the eighteenth century 
gave way before the industrial spirit, and the poUticaUy 
free labourer came into existence. But the economic 
servitude of the worker did not disappear with his political 
bondage. With the chains of innate status there dropped 
off also its economic privileges, and the free labourer found 
himself in a community where the old common rights over 
the soil were being gradually but effectually extinguished. 
He became a landless stranger in his own country. The 
development of competitive production for sale iri the 
world market, and the supremacy of the machine industry, 
involved, moreover, in order to live, not merely access to 
the land, but the use, in addition, of increasingly large 
masses of capital — at first in agriculture, then in foreign 
trade, then in manufacture, and finally now also in dis- 
tributive industries. The mere worker became steadily 
less and less industrially independent as his poUtical free- 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 19 

dom increased. From a self-governing producing unit he 
passed into a mere item in a vast industrial army over the 
organization and direction of which he had no control. 
He was free, but free only to choose to which master he 
would sell his labour — free only to decide from which pro- 
prietor he would beg that access to the new instruments of 
production without which he could not exist. 

In an age of the Small Industry there was much to be 
said for the view that the greatest possible personal freedom 
was to be obtained by the least possible collective rule. 
The peasant on his own farm, the blacksmith at his own 
forge, needed only to be let alone, to be allowed to follow 
their own individual desires as to the manner and duration 
of their work. But the organization of workers into huge 
armies, the directing of the factory and the warehouse by 
skilled generals and captains, which is the inevitable out- 
come of the machine industry and the world-commerce, 
have necessarily deprived the average workman of the 
direction of his own life or the management of his own 
work. The middle-class student, over whose occupation 
the Juggernaut Car of the Industrial Revolution has not 
passed, finds it difficult to realize how sullenly the work- 
man resents his exclusion from all share in the direction of 
the industrial world. This feehng is part of the real in- 
wardness of the demand for an Eight Hours Bill. 

The ordinary journalist or member of Parliament still 
says : "I don't consult any one except my doctor as to 
my hours of labour. That is a matter which each grown 
man must settle for himself." We never hear such a re- 
mark from a working-man belonging to any trade more 
highly organized than chimney-sweeping. The modern 
artisan has learnt that he can no more fix for himself the 
time at which he shall begin and end his work than he can 
fix the sunrise or the tides. When the carrier drove his 
own cart and the weaver sat at his own loom they began 
and left off work at the hours that each preferred. Now 
the railway worker or the power-loom weaver knows that 
he must work the same hours as his mates. 

It was this industrial autocracy that the Christian 
Socialists of 1850 sought to remedy by re-establishing the 



20 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

" self-governing workshop " of associated craftsnien ; and 
a similar purpose stiU pervades the whole field of industrial 
philanthropy. Sometimes it takes the specious name of 
" industrial partnership " ; sometimes the less pretentious 
form of a joint stock company with one-pound shares. In 
the country, it inspires the zeal for the creation of peasant 
proprietorships, or the restoration of " village industries," 
and behind it stalk those bogus middle-class " reforms " 
known as " free land " and " leasehold enfranchisement." 
But it can scarcely be hidden from the eyes of any serious 
student of economic evolution that all these well-meant 
endeavours to set back the industrial clock are, as regards 
any widespread result, foredoomed to failure. 

The growth of capital has been so vast, and is so rapidly 
increasing, that any hope of the great mass of the workers 
ever owning under any conceivable Individualist arrange- 
ments the instruments of production with which they work 
can only be deemed chimerical. 

Hence it is that irresponsible personal authority over the 
actions of others — expelled from the throne, the castle, and 
the altar — still reigns, almost unchecked, in the factory and 
the mine. The " captains of industry," hke the kings of 
yore, are indeed honestly unable to imagine how the busi- 
ness of the world can ever go on without the continuance 
of their existing rights and powers. And truly, upon any 
possible development of Individualistic principles, it is not 
easy to see how the worker can ever escape from their 
" beneficent " rule. 

The growth of collective action.— But representative 
government has taught the people how to gain coUectivelyj 
that power which they could never again individuallyj 
possess. The present century has accordingly witnessed W- 
growing demand for the legal regulation of the conditions! 
of industry which represents a marked advance on previous 
conceptions of the sphere of legislation. It has also seen a 
progress in the pubhc management of industrial under- 
takings which represents an equal advance in the field of; 
government administration. Such an extension of collective 
action is, it may safely be asserted, an inevitable result of 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 2i 

political democracy. When the Commons of England had 
secured the right to vote supplies, it must have seemed an 
unwarrantable extension that they should claim also to 
redress grievances. When they passed from legislation to 
the exercise of control over the executive, the constitu- 
tional jurists were aghast at the presumption. The 
attempt of Parliament to seize the command of the miUtary 
forces led to a civil war. Its control over foreign policy is 
scarcely two hundred years old. Every one of these de- 
velopments of the collective authority of the nation over 
the conditions of its own life was denounced as an illegiti- 
mate usurpation foredoomed to failure. Every one of 
them is still being resisted in countries less advanced in 
political development. In England, where all these rights 
are admitted, each of them inconsistent with the " com- 
plete personal liberty " of the minority, the Individualists 
of to-day deny the competence of the people to regulate, 
through their representative committees, national or local, 
the conditions under which they work and live. Although 
the tyranny which keeps the railwayman away from his 
home for seventeen hours a day is not the tyranny of king 
or priest or noble, he feels that it is tyranny all the same, 
and seeks to curb it in the way his fathers took. 

The captains of war have been reduced to the position 
of salaried officers acting for pubUc ends under public con- 
trol ; and the art of war has not decayed. In a similar 
Way the captains of industry are gradually being deposed 
from their independent commands, and turned into salaried 
servants of the public. Nearly aU the railways of the 
world, outside of America and the United Kingdom, are 
managed in this way. The Belgian Government works its 
own line of passenger steamers. The Paris Municipal 
Council opens public bakeries. The Glasgow Town Council 
runs its own common lodging houses. Everywhere, schools, 
waterworks, gasworks, tramways, dwellings for the people, 
and many other forms of capital are passing from indi- 
vidual into collective control. And there is no contrary 
movement. No community which has once " municipal- 
ized " any public service ever retraces its steps or reverses 
its action. 



22 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

Such is the answer that is actually being given to this 
difficulty of Individualism. Everywhere the workman is 
coming to understand that it is practically hopeless for him, 
either individually or co-operatively, to own the con- 
stantly growing mass of capital by the use of which he 
lives. Either we must, under what is called " complete 
personal freedom," acquiesce in the personal rule of the 
capitalist, tempered only by enlightened self-interest and 
the " gift of sympathy," or' we must substitute for it, as 
we did for the royal authority, the collective rule of the 
whole community. The decision is scarcely doubtful. 
And hence we have on aU sides, what to the Individualist 
is the most incomprehensible of phenomena, the expansion 
of the. sphere of government in the interests of liberty 
itself. I Socialism is, indeed, nothing but the extension of 
democratic self-government from the political to the in- 
dustrial world, and it is hard to resist the conclusion that 
it is an inevitable outcome of the joint effects of the 
economic and political revolutions of the past century. , 

Competition. — Individualists often take refuge in a 
faith that the extension of the proprietary class, and the 
competition of its members, will always furnish an ade- 
quate safeguard against the tyranny of any one of them. , 
But the monopoly of which the democracy is here im- 
patient is not that of any single individual, but that of the 
class itself. What the workers are objecting to is, not the 
rise of any industrial Buonaparte financially domineering 
the whole earth — though American experience makes even 
this less improbable than it once was — but the creation of 
a new feudal system of industry, the domination of the 
mass of ordinary workersiby a hierarchy of property owners, 
who compete, it is true, among themselves, but who are 
nevertheless able, as a class, to preserve a very real control i 
over the lives of those who depend upon their own daily j 
labour. 

Moreover, competition, where it still exists, is in itself 
one of the Individualist's difficulties, resulting, under a 
system of unequal incomes, not merely in the production, : 
as we have seen, of the wrong conunodities, but also of 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 23 

their production in the wrong way and for the wrong ends. 
The whole range of the present competitive Individualisni 
manifestly tends, indeed, to the glorification, not of honest 
personal service, but of the pursuit of personal gain — ^not 
the production of wealth, but the obtaining of riches. The 
inevitable outcome is the apotheosis Jf not of social service, 
but of successful financial speculation, which is already the 
special bane of the American civiHzation. With it comes 
inevitably a demoralization of personal character, a 
coarsening of moral fibre, and a hideous lack of taste. 

The lesson of Evolution. — This, indeed, is the lesson 
which economics brings to ethics. The " fittest to sur- 
vive " is not necessarily the best, but much more probably 
he who takes the fullest possible advantage of the con- 
ditions of the struggle, heedless of the result to his rivals. 
Indeed, the soci^ consequences of complete personal 
hberty in the struggle for existence have been so appalling 
that the principle has had necessarily to be abandoned. It 
is now generally admitted to be a primary duty of govern- 
ment to prescribe the plane on which it will allow the 
struggle for existence to be fought out, and so to determine 
which kind of fitness shall survive. We have long ruled 
out of the conflict the appeal to brute force, thereby de- 
priving the stronger man of his natural advantage over his 
weaker brother. We stop as fast as we can every develop- 
ment of fraud and chicanery, and so limit the natural right 
of the cunning to over- reach their neighbours. We pro- 
hibit the weapon of deceptive labels and trade-marks. In 
spite of John Bright's protest, we rule that adulteration is 
not a permissible form of competition. We forbid slavery ; 
with MiU's consent, we even refuse to enforce a hfelong 
contract of service. We condemn long hours of labour for 
women and children, and now even for adult men, and 
insanitary conditions of labour for all workers. 

The whole history of social progress is, indeed, one long 
series of definitions and limitations of the conditions of the 
struggle, in order to raise the quality of the fittest who 
survive. This service can be performed only by the 
Goverrunent. No individual competitor can lay down the 



24 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

rules of the combat. No individual can safely choose the 
higher plane so long as his opponent is at hberty to fight 
on the lower. In the face of this experience, the Indi- 
vidualist proposal to rely on complete personal liberty and 
free competition is not calculated to gain much acceptance. 
A social system devised to encourage " the art of estabUsh- 
ing the maximum inequality over our neighbours" — as 
Ruskin puts it — appears destined to be replaced, wherever 
this is possible, by one based on salaried public service, 
with the stimulus of duty and esteem, instead of that of 
fortune-making. 

The struggle for existence between nations.— But 

perhaps the most serious difficulty presented by the present 
concentration of energy upon personal gain is its effect 
upon the position of the community in the race struggle. 
The lesson of evolution seems to be that inter-racial com- 
petition is really more momentous in its consequences than 
the struggle between individuals. It is of comparatively 
little importance, in the long run, that individuals should 
develop to the utmost, if the life of the community in 
which they live is not thereby served. Two generations 
ago it would have been assumed, as a matter of course, that 
the most efficient hf e for each community was to be secured 
by each individual in it being left complete personal free- 
dom. But that crude vision has long since been demol- 
ished. Fifty years' social experience have convinced every 
statesman that, although there is no common sensorium, a' 
society is something more than th^ sum of its members ; 
that a social organism has a hfe and health distinguishable 
from those of its individual atoms. Hence it is that we 
have had Lord Shaftesbury warning us that without 
Factory Acts we should lose our textUe trade ; Matthew 
Arnold, that without national education we were steering 
straight into national decay ; and, finally, even Professor 
Huxley taking up the parable that, unless we see to the 
training of our residuum, France and Germany and the 
United States wiU take our place in the world's workshop. 
This " difficulty " of Individualism can be met, indeed, 
like the rest, only by the application of what are essentially 
Socialist principles. 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 25 

Argument and class bias.— These "difficulties" will 
appeal more strongly to some persons than to others. The 
evUs of inequality of wealth wiU come home more forcibly 
to the three millions of the submerged tenth in want of 
the bare necessaries of Ufe than they wUl to the small class 
provided with every luxury at the cost of the rest. The 
ethical objection to any diminution in the incomes of 
those who own our land will vary in strength according, 
in the main, to our economic or poUtical prepossessions. 
The indiscriminate multiplication of the unfit, Hke the 
drunkermess of the masses, wiU appear as a cause or an 
effect of social inequality, according to our actual infor- 
mation about the poor and our disposition towards them. 
The luxury of the rich may strike us as a sign either of 
national wealth or of national maladjustment of resources 
to needs. The autocratic administration of industry wiU 
appear either as the beneficent direction of the appropriate 
captains of industry, or as the t37ranny of a proprietary 
class over those who have no alternative but to become 
its wage-slaves. The struggle of the slaves among them- 
selves, of the proprietors among themselves, and of each 
class with the other, may be to us " the beneficent private 
war which makes one man strive to climb on the shoul- 
ders of another and remain there " (Sir Henry Maine, 
Popular Government, pp. 49, 50) ; or it may loom to us, 
out of the blood and tears and misery of the strife, as a 
horrible remnant of the barbarism from which man has 
half risen since 

" We dined, as a rule, on each other : 
What matter? the toughest survived." 

That survival from an obsolescent form of the struggle 
for existence may seem the best guarantee for the con- 
tinuance of the community and the race ; or it may, on 
the other hand, appear a suicidal internecine conflict, as 
fatal as that between the beUy and the members. AH 
through the tale two views are possible, and we shall take 
the one or the other according to our knowledge and 
temperament. 

This power of prepossession and unconscious bias con- 



26 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

stitutes, indeed, the special difficulty of the Individualists 
of to-day, .Aristotle found it easy to convince himself 
and his friends that slavery was absolutely necessary to 
civilization. The Liberty and Property Defence League 
has the more difficult task of convincing, not the proprie- 
tary class, but our modem slaves, who are electors, and 
into whose control the executive power of the comniunity 
is more and more faUing. And in this task the Individual- 
ists receive ever less and less help from the chief executive 
officers of the nation. Those who have forced directly 
upon their notice the larger aspects of the problem, those 
who are directly responsible for the collective interests of 
the community, can now hardly avoid, whether they like 
it or not, taking the SociaUst view. Each Minister of 
State protests against SociaUsm in the abstract, but every 
decision that he gives in his own department leans more 
and more away from the Individualist side. 

Socialism and liberty. — Some persons may object that 
this gradual expansion of the collective administration 
of the nation's life cannot fairly be styled a Socialistic 
development, and that the name ought to be refused to 
everything but a complete system of society on a Com- 
munist basis. But whatever Socialism may have meant 
in the past, its real significance now is the steady expan- 
sion of representative self-government into the industrial 
sphere. This industrial democracy it is, and not any in- 
genious Utopia, with which Individualists, if they desire 
to make any effectual resistance to the substitution of 
collective for individual will, must attempt to deal. Most 
poUtical students are, indeed, now prepared to agree with 
the Socialist that our restrictive laws -and municipal 
SociaUsm, so far as these have yet gone, do, as a matter 
of fact, secure a greater well-being and general freedom 
than that system of complete personal liberty, of which the 
" sins of legislators " have deprived us. The sacred name 
of hberty is invoked, by both parties, and the question at 
issue is merely one of method. As each " difficulty " of 
the present social order presents itself for solution, the 
SociaUst points to the experience of all advanced industrial 



THE DIFFICULTIES OF INDIVIDUALISM 27 

countries, and urges that personal freedom can be obtained 
by the great mass of the people only by their substituting 
democratic self-government in the industrial world for 
that persoijal power which the Industrial Revolution has 
placed in th^ hands of the proprietary class. His opponents 
regard individual liberty as inconsistent with collective 
control, and accordingly resist any extension of this 
" higher freedom " of collective life. Their main difficulty 
is the advance of democracy, ever more and more claiming 
to extend itself into the field of industry. To aU objec- 
tions, fears, doubts, and difficulties, as to the impractica- 
bility of doing in the industrial what has already been 
done in the political world, the democratic answer is, 
" solvitur amhulando " ; only that is done at any time 
which is proved to be then and there practicable ; only 
such advance is made as the progress in the sense of pubUc 
duty permits. But that progress is both our hope and our 
real aim : the development of individual character is the 
Socialist's " odd trick," for the sake of which he seeks to 
win aU others. 

t Industrial democracy must therefore necessarily be 
gradual in its development, and cannot for long ages be 
absolutely complete. The time may never arrive, even as 
regards material things, when individual is entirely merged 
in collective ownership or control, but it is matter of com- 
mon observation that every attempt to grapple with the 
" difficulties " of our existing civilization brings us nearer 
to that goal. 



A FOREWORD 



The following essay was read to a meeting of the Fabian Society 
on the 1 6th October, 1891. It has circulated ever since as a 
Fabian Tract, and is reprinted here without any substantial 
modification of the argument. I have added, perhaps, a dozen 
sentences, and omitted a dozen more, referring to events which 
have lost their interest or been forgotten : otherwise it stands as 
it did. I had hoped to be able to claim that my essay had done 
its work as far as organized Socialism is concerned, because since 
1 89 1 Socialism all over Europe has become definitely constitu- 
tional and parliamentary, and is no longer confused with 
Anarchism by ordinarily well-informed and reasonably honest 
political journalists. But now that the middle classes are 
crowding into th^Socialist movement, I find that another dose of 
the antidote to Anarchism is badly needed. The errors of 
Anarchism are thoroughly popular errors : the middle classes, 
little as they suspect it and indignantly as they would repudiate 
it, are saturated with these errors, which they call Individualism, 
Protestantism, French Revolution principles, and so forth. To 
them I recommend this reprint. 

'' The word Social-Democrat is used in these pages in its proper 
sense, to denote a Socialist who is also a Democrat. In England 
it has come to be used in a narrower sense, to denote doctrinaire 
Marxism and the characteristic propaganda of the Social-Demo- 
cratic Federation. Whilst this transient misunderstalnding lasts, 
my readers will have to allow for it by remembering that all 
Socialists who postulate democracy as the political basis of 
Socialism, including, of course, the members of the Fabian 
Society, are entitled to describe themselves as Social-Democrats. 



G. BERNARD SHAW. 



Ayot St. Lawrence, 

26fh December, 1907, 



II. THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF 
ANARCHISM 

BY BERNARD SHAW 

Anarchists and Socialists. In many of the newspapers 
which support the existing social order, no distinction is 
made between Sociahsts and Anarchists, both being aUke 
hostile to that order. In the columns of such papers all 
revolutionists are Sociahsts ; all Sociahsts are Anarchists ; 
and all Anarchists are incendiaries and assassins, thieves 
and Ubertines. One result of this is that the imaginative 
French or Itahan criminal who reads the papers, sometimes 
declares, when taken red-handed in the commission of 
murder or burglary, that he is an Anarchist acting on 
principle. And in all countries the more violent and reck- 
less temperaments among the discontented are attracted 
by the name Anarchist merely because it suggests desperate, 
thorough, uncompromising, implacable war on existing 
injustices. It is therefore necessary to remark at the out- 
set that there are some persons abusively called Anarchists 
by their pohtical opponents, and others ignorantly so 
described by themselves, who are nevertheless not Anar- 
chists within the meaning of this paper. On the other 
hand, many persons who are never called Anarchists either 
by themselves or others, take Anarchist ground in their 
opposition to Sociahsm, just as clearly as the writers with 
whom I shall more particularly deal. They distrust State 
action, and are jealous advocates of the prerogative of the 
individual, proposing to restrict the one and to extend 
the other as far as is humanly possible, in opposition to the 
Social-Democrat, who proposes to democratize the State 
and throw upon it the whole work of organizing the primary 
industries upon which our hves and hberties depend, and 
without the ownership and control of which we must 
necessarily remain slaves to those who do own and control 



30 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

them, thereby making the State the most vital organ in the 
social body. Obviously there are natural limits to the 
application of both views ; and Anarchists and Social- 
Demotrats are aUke subject to the fool's argument that 
since neither collective provision for the individual nor 
individual freedom from collective control can be made 
complete, neither party is thoroughly consistent. No 
dialectic of that kind wiU, I hope, be found in the following 
criticism of Anarchism. It is confined to the practic^ 
measures proposed by Anarchists, and raises no discussion 
as to aims or principles. As to these we are aU agreed. 
Justice, Virtue, Truth, Brotherhood, the highest interests 
of the people, moral as well as physical: these are dear 
not only to Social-Democrats and Anarchists, but also to 
Tories, Whigs, Radicals, and probably also to Moonlighters 
and Dynamitards. It is with the methods by which it is 
proposed to give effect to them that I am concerned here ; 
and to them I shall now address myself. 

Individualist Anarchism. The fuU economic detail of 
Individualist Anarchism may be inferred with sufficient 
completeness from an article entitled " State Socialism 
and Anarchism : how far they agree, and wherein they 
differ," which appeared in March, 1888, in Liberty, an 
Anarchist journal, then pubUshed in Boston, Mass., and 
still issued and edited by the author of the article, Mr. 
Benjamin R. Tucker. An examination of any number 
of this journal will show that as a candid, clear-headed, 
and courageous demonstrator of IndividuaUst Anarchism 
by purely intellectual methods, Mr. Tucker may safely 
be accepted as one of the most capable spokesmen of his 
party. 

"The economic principles of Modem SociaUsm," says 
Mr. Tucker, " are a logical deduction from the principle 
laid down by Adam Smith in the early chapters of his 
Wealth of Nations : namely, that labor is the true measure 
of price. From this principle, these three men [Josiah 
Warren, Proudhon, and Marx] deduced ' that the natural 
wage of labor is its product.' " 

Now the Socialist who is unwary enough to accept this 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OP ANARCHISM 31 

economic position will presently find himself logically 
committed to the Whig doctrine of laissez-faire. To this 
Mr. Tucker will not object. He may say, " Why not ? 
Laisser-faire is exactly what we want. Destroy the money 
monopoly, the tariff monopoly, and the patent monopoly. 
Enforce then only those land titles which rest on personal 
occupancy or cultivation ; and the social problem of how 
to secure to each worker the product of his own labor 
will be solved simply by everyone minding his own busi- 
ness." 

Perhaps I had better give Mr. Tucker's own words to 
justify my paraphrase : — 

" Second in importance comes the land monopoly, the 
evil effects of which are seen principally in exclusively 
agricultural countries, like Ireland. This monopoly con- 
sists in the enforcement by government of land titles 
which do not rest on personal occupancy and cultivation. 
It was obvious to Warren and Proudhon that as soon as 
individuals should no longer be protected by their fellows 
in anything but personal occupation and cultivation of 
land, ground rent would disappear, and so usury have one 
less leg to stand on." Mr. Tucker adds, in an article 
entitled " A Singular Misunderstanding," in Liberty of the 
loth September, 1892, " Regarding land, it has been 
steadily maintained in these columns that protection 
should be withdrawn from all land titles, except those 
based on personal occupancy and use." Also, " Nor does 
the Anarchistic scheme furnish any code of morals to be 
imposed on the individual. ' Mind your own business,' 
is its only moral law." 

Let us see. Suppose we decree that henceforth no 
more rent shall be paid in England, and that each man 
shall privately own his house, and hold his shop, factory, 
or place of business jointly with those who work with him 
in it. Let every one be free to issue money from his own 
mint without tax or stamp. Let all taxes on commodities 
be abohshed, and patents and copyrights be things of the 
past; Try to imagine yourself under these promising con- 
ditions with life before you. You may start in business 
as a crossing sweeper, shopkeeper, collier, farmer, miller, 



32 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

banker, or what not. Whatever your choice may be, the 
first thing you find is that the reward of your labor de- 
pends far more on the situation in which you exercise it 
than on yourself. If you sweep the crossing between St. 
James's and Albemarle Streets you prosper greatly. But 
if you are forestalled not only there, but at every point 
more central than, say, the comer of Holford Square, 
Islington, you may sweep twice as hard as your rival in 
Piccadilly, and not take a fifth of his toU. At such a pass 
you may well curse Adam Smith and his principle that; 
labor is the measure of price, and either advocate a 
democratically constituted State Sociahst municipality, 
paying all its crossing sweepers equally, or else pitch your 
broom into the Thames and turn shopkeeper. Yet here 
again the same difficulty crops up. Your takings depend 
not on yourself, but on the number of people who pass your 
window per hour. At Charing Cross or Cheapside fortunes 
are to be made : in the main street at Putney one can do 
enough to hold up one's head : further out, a thousand 
yards right or left of the Portsmouth Road, the most 
industrious man in the world may go whistle for a custo- 
mer. Evidently retail shopkeeping is not the thing for 
a man of spirit after Charing Cross and Cheapside have 
been appropriated by occupying owners on the principle 
of first come first served. 

You must aspire then to wholesale dealing — ^nay, to 
banking. Alas ! the difficulty is intensified beyond cal- 
culation. Take that financial trinity, Glyn, Mills, and 
Cmrie ; transplant them only a few mUes from Lombard 
Street ; and they will soon be objects of pity to the tra- 
ditional sailor who once presented at their counter a cheque 
for £25 and generously offered to take it in instalments; 
as he did not wish to be too hard on them all at once. 
Turning your back on banking, you meddle in the wheat 
trade, and end by offering to exchange an occup5dng 
ownership of aU Salisbury Plain for permission to pay a 
rack rent for premises within hail of The Baltic and its 
barometer. 

Probably there are some people who have a bUnd beUef 
that crossing sweepers, The Baltic, Lombard Street, and 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 33 

the like, are too utterly of the essence of the present system 
to survive the introduction of Anarchism. They will teU 
me that I am reading the conditions of the present into 
the future. Against such instinctive convictions it is vain 
• to protest that I am reading only Mr. Tucker's conditions. 
But at least there will be farming, milling, and mining, 
conducted by human agents, under Anarchism. Now the 
farmer will not find in his perfect Anarchist market two 
prices at one time for two bushels of wheat of the same 
quaUty ; yet the labor cost of each bushel will vary accord- 
ing to the fertility of the farm on which it was raised, and 
the proximity of that farm to the market. A good soil 
will often yield the strongest and richest grain to less 
labor per acre or per bushel than must be spent on land 
that returns a crop less valuable by five shillings a quarter. 
When all the best land is held by occupying owners, those 
who have to content themselves with poorer soils will hail 
the principle that labor is the measure of price with the 
thmnb to the nose. 

Among the millers, too, there must needs be grievous 
mistrust of Proudhon and Josiah Warren. For of two 
men with equally good heart to work and machinery to 
work with, one may be on a' stream that will easily turn 
six millstones ; whilst the other, by natural default of 
water, or being cut off by his fellow higher up stream, may 
barely be able to keep two pairs of stones in gear, and may 
in a dry season be ready to tie these two about his neck 
and He down under the scum of his pond. Certainly he 
can defy drought by setting to work with a steam or electro 
motor, steel rollers, and aU the latest contrivances ; yet, 
after all his outlay, he wiH not be able to get a penny a 
sack more for his stuff than his competitor, to whose 
water-wheel Nature is gratuitously putting her shoulder. 
" Competition everywhere and always " of his unaided 
strength against that of his rival he might endure ; but 
to fight naked against one armed with the winds and 
waves (for there are windmills as well as watermills) is no 
sound justice, though it be sound Anarchism. 

And how would occupying ownership of mines work, 
when it is an easier matter to get prime WaUsend and Silk- 



34 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

stone out of one mine than to get slates and steam fuel 
out of another, even after twenty years preliminary shaft- 
sinking ? Would Mr. Tucker, if he had on sale from a rich 
mine some Silkstone that had only cost half as much labor 
as steam coal from a relatively poor one, boldly announce : 
" Prices this day : Prime Silkstone, per ton, 25s. ; best 
steam ditto, 50s. Terms, cash. Principles, those of 
Adam Smith : see Wealth of Nations, passim " ? Certainly 
not with " competition everj^where and always," unless 
custom was no object to him in comparison with principle. 

It is useless to multiply instances. There is only one 
country in which every square foot of land is as favorably 
situated for conducting exchanges, and as richly endowed 
by ligture for production, as any other square foot ; and 
the name of that country is Utopia. In Utopia alone, 
therefore, would occupying ownership be just. In England, 
America, and other places rashly created without con- 
sulting the Anarchists, Nature is aU caprice and injustice 
in dealing with Labor. Here you scratch her with a 
spade ; and earth's increase and foison plenty are added 
to you. On the other side of the hedge twenty steam- 
diggers wiU not extort a turnip from her. Still less adapted 
to Anarchism than the fields and mines is the crowded 
city. The distributor flourishes where men love to con- 
gregate : his work is to bring commodities to men ; but 
here the men bring themselves to the commodities. Re- 
move your distributor a mile, and his carts and travellers 
must scour the country for customers. Nobody knows this 
better than the landlords. Up High Street, down Low 
Street, over the bridge and into Crow Street, the toilers 
may sweat equally for equal wages ; but their product ' 
varies ; and the ground rents vary with the product. 
Competition levels down the share kept by the worker as 
it levels up the hours of his labor ; and the surplus, high 
or low according to the fertility of the soil or convenience 
of the site, goes as high rent or low rent, but always in the 
long run rack rent, to the idle owner of the land. 

Now Mr. Tucker's remedy for idle landlordism is to 
make the occupier — ^the actual worker — ^the owner. Ob- 
viously the effect would be, not to abolish his advantage 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 35 

oyer his less favorably circumstanced competitors, but 
simply to authorize him to put it into his own pocket 
instead of handing it over to a landlord. He would then, 
it is true, be (as far as his place of business was concerned) 
a worker instead of an idler ; but he would get more pro- 
duct as a manufacturer and more custom as a distributor 
than other equally industrious workers in worse situations. 
He could thus save faster than they, and retire from active 
service at an age when they would stiU have many years 
more work before them. His ownership of his place of 
business would of course lapse in favor of his successor 
the instant he retired. How would the rest of the com- 
munity decide who was to be the successor ? Would they 
toss up for it or fight for it ? Or would he be allowed to 
nominate his heir ? in which case he would either nominate 
his son or sell his nomination for a large fine. 

Again, his retirement from his place of business would 
leave him still in possession, as occup57ing owner, of his 
private residence ; and this might be of exceptional or 
even unique desirability in point of situation. It might, 
for instance, be built on Richmond Hill, and command 
from its windows a beautiful view of the Thames valley. 
Now Richmond Hill will not hold all the people who would 
rather five there than in the Essex marshes. It is easy 
to say, Let the occupier be the owner ; but the question 
is. Who is to be the occupier ? Suppose it were settled by 
drawing lots, what would prevent the winner from selling 
his pri^olege for its f uU (unearned) value under free exchange 
and omnipresent competition ? To such problems as 
these, Individualist Anarchism offers no solution. It 
theorizes throughout on the assumption that one place 
in a country is as good as another. 

Under a system of occupying ownership, rent would 
exist in its primary form of an excess of the prices 
of articles over the expenses of producing them, thus 
enabling owners of superior land to get more for their 
products than cost price, and to sell their occupancy for 
the capital value of the rent. If, for example, the worst land 
worth using were only one-third as productive as the best 
land, then the owner-occupiers of that best land would 



36 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

get in the market the labor cost of their wares three times 
over. This 200 per cent premium would be just as truly 
ground rent as if it were paid openly as such to the Duke of 
Bedford or the Astors; and the occupancy could be sold 
as easily as any stock yielding the same dividend. 

It may be asked why prices must go up to the expenses 
of production on the very worst land. Why not ascertain 
and charge the average cost of production, taking good 
and bad land together ? Simply because nothing but 
SociaUsm can put the good and bad lands into the same 
ownership, and their accounts into the same ledger. 
Under Anarchism, with the good and bad lands in separate 
competing hands, nothing short of the maximum laboi 
cost would repay the owners of the worst land. In fact, 
the worst land would not be cultivated until the price had 
risen. The process would be as foUows. Suppose the 
need of the population for wheat were more than satisfied 
by crops raised from the best available land only. Free 
competition in wheat-producing would then bring the 
price down to the labor cost or expenses of production ; 
and no inferior land would be cultivated. Now suppose 
an increase of population sufficient to overtax the wheat- 
supplying capacity of the best land. The supply faUing 
short of the demand, the price of wheat would rise. When 
it had risen to the labor cost of production from land one 
degree inferior to the best, it would be worth while to 
cultivate that inferior land. When that new source came 
to be overtaxed by the still growing population, the price 
would rise again, until it would repay the cost of raising 
wheat from land yet lower in fertility than the second 
grade. But these descents would in nowise diminish the 
fertiUty of the best land, from which wheat could be raised 
as cheaply as before, in spite of the rise in the price, which 
would apply to all the wheat in the market, no matter 
where raised. That is, the holders of the best land would 
gain a premium, rising steadily with the increase of popula- 
tion, exactly as the landlord now enjoys a steadily rising rent. 

Enghsh readers need not baulk themselves here be- 
cause of the fall of agricultural rents in this country. Rent, 
in the economic sense, covers payment for the use of land 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 37 

for any purpose, agricultural or otherwise ; and town rents 
have risen oppressively. Abo, the normal progress of 
cultivation from rich to poorer soils is often upset by the 
discovery of new regions, and their commercial annexation 
by new railways and shipping lines ; so that EngUsh agri- 
cultural rents, after rising with the spread of EngUsh farm- 
ing from good soil to bad, got knocked down again by the 
appearance of American and Russian wheat in the English 
market. 

A much more puzzling discrepancy between the facts 
and the theory is presented by the apparent absence 
of any upward tendency in the prices of general commodi- 
ties. However, an article may be apparently no less cheap 
or even much cheaper than it was twenty years ago ; and 
yet its price may have risen enormously relatively to its 
average cost of production, owing to the average cost of 
production having been reduced by machinery, higher 
organization of the labor of producing it, cheapened traffic 
with other countries, etc. Thus, in the cotton industry, 
machinery has multiplied each man's power of production 
eleven hundred times ; and Sir Joseph Whitworth was 
quoted by the President of the Iron and Steel Institute 
some years ago as having declared that a Nottingham lace 
machine can do the work formerly done by 8,000 lace- 
makers. In the production of pins, pens, etc., automatic 
machinery has led to such profuse production that single 
articles cannot be purchased, there being no coin small 
enough to effect the transaction. Suppose, then, that 
an article which cost, on the average, fivepence to make 
in 1850, was then sold for sixpence. If it be now selling 
for threepence, it is apparently twice as cheap as it was. 
But if the cost of production has also fallen to three- 
halfpence, which is by no means an extravagant suppo- 
sition, then the price, considered relatively to the cost of 
production, has evidently risen prodigiously, since it is 
now twice the cost, whereas the cost was formerly five- 
sixths of the price. In other words, the surplus, or rent, 
per article,- has risen from i6f per cent to 100 per cent, 
in spite of the apparent cheapening. This is the explana- 
tion of the fact that though the workers were probably 



38 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

never before so monstrously robbed as they are at present, 
it is quite possible for statisticians to prove that on the 
whole wages have risen and prices fallen. The worker, 
getting five shillings a week naore than his father got, and 
having to pay only threepence where he formerly paid 
sixpence, forgets that the share of his threepence that 
goes to an idler may be much larger than that which went 
out of each of the two threepences he paid formerly. 

As the agricultural industry is typical of aU industries, 
it win be seen now that price does not rise because worse 
land is brought into cultivation, but that worse land is 
brought into cultivation by the rise of price. Or, to put 
it in another way, the price of the commodity does not rise 
because more labor has been devoted to its production, 
but more labor is devoted to its production because the 
price has risen. Commodities, in fact, have a price before 
they are produced : we produce them expressly to obtain 
that price ; and we cannot alter it by merely spending 
more or less labor on them. It is natural for the laborer 
to insist that labor ought to be the measure of price, and 
that the just wage of labor is its average product ; but 
the first lesson he has to learn in economics is that labor 
is not and never can be the measure of price under a com- 
petitive system. Not until the progress of SociaUsm re- 
places competitive production and distribution, with 
individual greed for its incentive, by Collectivist produc- 
tion and distribution, with fair play aU round for its in- 
centive, will the prices either of labor or commodities 
represent their just value. 

Thus we see that " competition everywhere and alwajre "■ 
fails to circumvent rent whilst the land is held by competing 
occupiers, who are protected in the individual ownership 
of what they can raise from their several holdings. And 
" the great principle laid down by Adam Smith," formu- 
lated by Josiah Warren as " Cost is the proper limit of 
price," turns out — since in fact price is the limit of cost — 
to be in practice merely a preposterous way of expressing 
the fact that under Anarchism that small fraction of the 
general wealth which was produced under the least favor- 
able, circumstances would fetch at least its cost, whilst all 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 39 

the rest would fetch a premium which would be nothing 
but privately appropriated rent with an Anarchist mask on. 
We see also that such a phrase as " the natural wage of 
labor is its product " is a misleading one, since labor 
cannot produce subsistence except when exercised upon 
natural materials and aided by natural forces external to 
man ; nor can any human lawgiver ever settle the question 
of how much of the crop of a farm has been produced by 
the horses, how much by the ploughman, how much by the 
farmer, and how much by the agricultural chemist in his 
laboratory. And in any case the value in exchange of the 
product depends in nowise on the share taken by labor 
in its production, but solely on the demand for it in society. 
The economic problem of Sociahsm is the just distribution 
of the premium given to certain portions of the general 
product by the action of demand. As Individuahst 
Anarchism not only fails to distribute these, but deHber- 
ately permits their private appropriation, Individuahst 
Anarchism is the negation of Socialism, and is, in fact, 
UnsociaUsm carried as near to its logical completeness as 
any sane man dare carry it. 

Communist Anarchism. State Sociahsm and Anarch- 
ism, sa}^ Mr. Tucker, " are based on two principles, the his- 
tory of whose conflict is almost equivalent to the history of 
the world since man came into it ; and all intermediate par- 
ties, including that of the upholders of the existing society, 
are based upon a compromise between them." These 
principles are Authority, the State Socialist principle, and 
Liberty, the Anarchist principle. State Socialism is then 
defined as " the doctrine that all the affairs of men should 
be managed by the Government, regardless of individual 
choice," whereas Anarchism is " the doctrine that aU the 
affairs of men should be managed by individuals or volun- 
tary associations, and that the State should be abolished." 

Now most revolutionists will admit that there was a 
stage in the growth of their opinions when the above 
seemed an adequate statement of the alternatives before 
them. But, as we have seen,fcwhen the Individualist 
Anarchist proceeds to reduce his principle to practice, he 



40 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

is inevitably led to Mr. Tucker's program of " competi- 
tion everywhere and alwaj^" among occupying owners, 
subject only to the moral law of minding their own busi- 
ness. 

No sooner is this formicated than its effect on the 
distribution of wealth is examined by the economist, who 
finds no trouble in convicting it of privilege, monopoly, 
inequality, unjust indirect taxation, and ever5^hing that 
is most repugnant to Anarchism. But this startling re- 
verse, however it may put the Anarchist out of conceit 
with his economic program, does not in the least recon- 
cile him to State Socialism. It only changes his mind on 
one point. Whilst his economic program satisfied him, 
he was content to admit that State Socialism was the only 
possible alternative to IndividuaUst Anarchism : nay, 
he rather insisted on it, because his dislike of the State 
Socialist alternative was a strong incentive to the accep- 
tance of the other. But the moment it becomes apparent 
that neither of them can abolish rent, the disillusioned 
IndividuaUst Anarchist seeks a tertium quid, or third 
system which shall collect and justly distribute the rent 
of the country, and yet prevent the collecting and dis- 
tributing organ from acquiring the tjnrannous powers of 
governments as we know them. There are two such sys- 
tems at present before the world : Communism and Social- 
Democracy. Now there is no such thing as Anarchist 
Social-Democracy ; but there is such a thing as Anarchist 
Communism or Communist Anarchism. It is true that Mr. 
Tucker does not recognize the Communist Anarchist as an 
Anarchist at aU : he energetically repudiates Communism 
as the uttermost negation of true Anarchism, and will not 
admit any logical halting place between thoroughgoing 
State Socialism and thoroughgoing Individualist Anar- 
chism. But why insist on anybody occupying a logical 
halting place ? We are all fond of shewing that on any 
given subject there are only two of these safe spots, one 
being the point of agreement with us, and the other some 
inconceivable extremity of absurdity. But for the pur- 
poses of the present criticism it wHL be more practic^ to 
waive such crude ratiocination, and concede that to deal , 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 4t 

with Mr. Tucker without also dealing with Peter Kropotkin 
is not to give Anarchism fair play. 

The main difficulty in criticizing Kropotkin Ues in the 
fact that, in the distribution of generally needed labor 
products, his Communism is finally cheap and expedient, 
whereas Mr. Tucker's IndividuaUsm, in the same depart- 
ment, is finally extravagant and impossible. Even under 
the most perfect Social-Democracy we should, without 
Communism, stiU be Hving like hogs, except that each hog 
would get his fair share of grub. High as that ideal must 
seem to any one who complacently accepts the present 
social order, it is hardly high enough to satisfy a man in 
whom the social instinct is well developed. So long as 
vast quantities of labor have to be expended in weighing 
and measuring each man's earned share of this and that 
commodity — in watching, spying, poUcing, and punishing 
in order to prevent Tom getting a crumb of bread more 
or Dick a spoonful of milk less than he has a voucher for, 
so long wiU the difference between UnsociaUsm and 
Sociahsm be only the difference between unscientific and 
scientific hoggishness. I do not desire to underrate the 
vastness of that difference. Whilst we are hogs, let us at 
least be well fed, healthy, reciprocally useful hogs, instead 
of — ^weU, instead of the sort we are at present. But we 
shall not have any great reason to stand on the dignity of 
our humanity until a just distribution of the loaves and 
fishes becomes perfectly spontaneous, and the great effort 
and expense of a legal distribution, however just, is saved. 
For my own part, I seek the establishment of a state of 
society in which I shall not be bothered with a ridiculous 
pocketful of coppers, nor have to waste my time in per- 
plexing arithmetical exchanges of them with booking 
clerks, bus conductors, shopmen, and other superfluous 
persons before I can get what I need. I aspire to live in a 
community which shall be at least capable of averaging 
the transactions between us well enough to ascertain how 
much work I am to do for it in return for the right to take 
what I want of the commoner necessaries and conveniences 
of life. The saving of friction by such an arrangement may 
be guessed from the curious fact that only specialists in 



42 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

sociology are conscious of the numerous instances in which 
we are to-day forced to adopt it by the very absurdity of 
the alternative. Most people will tell you that Communism 
is known in this country only as a visionary project advo- 
cated by a handful of amiable cranks. Then they will 
stroU off across the common bridge, along the common em- 
bankment, by the hght of the common street lamp shining 
ahke on the just and the unjust, up the common street, 
and into the common Trafalgar Square, where, on the 
smallest hint on their part that Communism is to be 
tolerated for an instant in a civilized country, they will be 
handily bludgeoned by the common poMceman, and haled 
off to the common gaol.* When you suggest to these 
people that the application of Communism to the bread 
supply is only an extension, involving no new principle, 
of its application to street lighting, they are bewildered. 
Instead of picturing the Communist man answering the 
knock of the Communal baker, and taking what bread he 
needs (the rate collector presenting the biU at the end of 
the half year), they imagine him bursting obstreperously 
into his neighbor's house and snatching the bread off his 
table on the " as much mine as yoiurs " principle — ^which, 
however, has an equally sharp edge for the thief's throat 
in the form " as much yours as mine." In fact, the average 
Englishman is capable of understanding Communism only 
when it is explained as a state of things under which every- 
thing is paid for out of the taxes, and taxes are paid in 
labor. And even then he wiU sometimes say, " How 
about the brainwork ? " and begin the usual novice's 
criticism of SociaUsm in general. 

Now a Communist Anarchist may demur to such a 
definition of Communism as I have just given ; for it is 
evident that if there must be rates and taxes, there must 
also be some authority to coUect them. I submit, how- 
ever, that if any article — ^bread, for instance — ^be com- 
munized, by which I mean that there shall be public daily 

* Written in the 1887-92 period, during which Trafalgar Square 
was forcibly closed against public meetings by the Salisbury ad- 
ministration. 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 43 

house-to-house distributions of bread, sufficient to satisfy 
everybody, which all may share without question or pay- 
ment, wheat must be grown, mills must grind, and bakers 
must sweat daily in order to keep up the supply. There 
is no more difficulty about such a distribution than 
about the present house-to-house collection of dust ; but 
the first condition of solvency for the enterprise is that 
every consumer of the bread shall contribute to its support 
as much as the bread he consumes costs to produce. Com- 
munism or no Communism, he must pay, or else leave 
somebody else to pay for him. Communism will cheapen 
bread — will save the cost of scales and weights, coin, book- 
keepers, counter-hands, pohcemen, paupers, and other 
expenses of private property ; but it wiU not do away 
with the cost of the bread and its storage and distribution. 
Now supposing voluntary co-operation and public spirit 
prove equal to the task of elaborately organizing the 
farming, miUing, and baking industries for the production 
of bread, how will the voluntary co-operators recover the 
cost of their operations from the consumers ? If they 
are given powers to collect the cost from the public, and 
to enforce their demands by punishing or distraining 
non-payers, then they at once become a State depart- 
ment lev5dng a tax for pubUc purposes ; and the Com- 
munism of the bread supply becomes no more Anarchistic 
than our present Communistic supply of street lighting is 
Anarchistic. Unless the taxation is voluntary — ^unless the 
bread consumer is free to refuse pa37ment without incurring 
any penalty save the reproaches of his conscience and his 
neighbors, the Anarchist ideal wUl remain unattained. 
Now the pressure of conscience and pubHc opinion is by 
no means to be slighted. Millions of men and women, 
without any legal compulsion whatever, pay for the sup- 
port of institutions of aU sorts, from churches to taU hats, 
simply out of their need for standing well with their neigh- 
bours. But observe, this compulsion of public opinion 
derives most of its force from the difficulty of getting the 
wherewithal to buy bread without a reputation for re- 
spectabihty. Under Communism a man could snap hig 
fingers at pubHc opinion without starving for it. Besides, 



44 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

public opinion cannot for a moment be relied upon as a 
force wluch operates uniformly as a compulsion upon men 
to act righteously. Its operation is for all practical purposes 
quite arbitrary, and is as often unrighteous as righteous. It 
is just as hostile to the reformer as to the criminal. It hangs 
Anarchists and worships Nitrate Kings. It insists on a 
man wearing a tall hat and going to church, on his marry- 
ing the woman he lives with, and on his pretending to 
believe whatever the rest pretend to beheve ; and it en- 
forces these ordinances in a sufficient majority of cases 
without help from the law : its tyranny, in fact, being so 
crushing that its Uttle finger is often thicker than the law's 
loins. But there is no sincere public opinion that a man 
should work for his daily bread if he can get it for nothing. 
Indeed, it is just the other way : public opinion has been 
educated to regard the performance of daily manual labor 
as the lot of the despised classes. The common aspiration 
is to acquire property and leave off working. Even mem- 
bers of the professions rank below the independent gentry, 
so called because they are independent of their own 
labor. 

These prejudices are not confined to the middle and 
upper classes : they are rampant among the workers. The 
man who works nine hours a day despises the man who 
works sixteen. A country gentleman may consider him- 
self socially superior to his sohcitor or his doctor ; but 
they associate on much more cordial terms than shopmen 
and carmen, engine drivers and railway porters, bricklayers 
and hodmen, barmaids and general servants. One is 
almost tempted in this country to declare that the poorer 
the man the greater the snob, until you get down to those 
who are so oppressed that they have not enough self- 
respect even for snobbery, and thus are able to pluck 
out of the heart of their misery a certain irresponsibiUty 
which it would be mockery to describe as genuine frank- 
ness and freedom. The moment you rise into the higher 
atmosphere of a pound a week, you find envy, osten- 
tation, tedious and insincere ceremony, love of petty titles, 
precedences and dignities, flourishing rankly. In fact, the 
notion that poverty favors virtue was clearly invented 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 45 

to persuade the poor that what they lose in this world they 
will gain in the next. 

Kropotkin, too optimistically as I think, disposes of the 
average man by attributing his unsocialism to the pressure 
of the corrupt system under which he groans. Remove 
that pressure, and he will think rightly, says Kropotkin. 
But if the natural man be indeed social as well as gregari- 
ous, how did the corruption and oppression under which 
he groans ever arise ? Could the institution of property 
as we know it ever have come into existence unless nearly 
every man had been, not merely willing, but openly and 
shamelessly eager to quarter himself idly on the labor of 
his fellows,, and to domineer over them whenever the 
law enabled him to do so ? Granted that he is not morally 
responsible for the iniquity of our present distribution of 
wealth ; granted that if he had understood and foreseen 
the phenomenon of economic rent, he would never have 
allowed land and industrial capital to be privately appro- 
priated ; granted that the Socialist movement is a proof 
that now he sees the mischief he is seeking the remedy ; 
granted that he voluntarily pays a good deal of Income Tax 
that he could evade if he chose ; granted that if four-fifths 
of the population were habitually to do the utter worst 
in the way of selfishness that the present system invites 
them to do, society would not stand the strain for six 
weeks. So far we can claim to be better than our institu- 
tions. But the fact that we are too good for complete 
Unsocialism by no means proves that we are good enough 
for complete voluntary Communism. The practical ques- 
tion remains. How many men trained under our present 
system could be trusted to pay for their food scrupulously 
if they could take it for nothing with impunity ? 
Qearly, if a very large proportion did not so pay. 
Anarchist Communism would go bankrupt. 

The answer is that aU the evils against which Anarchism 
is directed are caused by men already taking advantage 
of the institution of property to commit this very sin — con- 
sume their subsistence without working for it. What 
reason is there for doubting that many of them would 
attempt to take exactly the same advantage of Anarchist 



46 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

Communism ? And what reason is there to doubt that 
the community, finding its bread store bankrupt, would 
instantly pitch its Anarchism to the four winds, and come 
down on the defaulters with the strong hand of a law to 
make them pay, just as they are now compelled to pay 
their Income Tax ? I submit, then, to our Communist 
Anarchist friends that Communism requires either external 
compulsion to labor, or else a social moraUty which the 
evils of existing society shew that we have failed as yet 
to attain. I do not deny the possibility of the final attain- 
ment of that or any other degree of public conscience; 
but I contend that the path to it lies through a transition 
system which, instead of offering fresh opportunities 
to men of getting their hving idly, will destroy those 
opportunities altogether, and wean us from the habit 
of regarding such an anomaly as possible, much less 
honorable. 

It must not be' supposed that the economic difficulties 
which I pointed out as fatal to IndividuaUst Anarchism 
are entirely removed by Communism. It is true that if 
aU the bread and coal in the country were thrown into a 
common store from which each man could take as much 
as he wanted whenever he pleased without direct pajmient, 
then no man could gain any advantage over his fellows 
from the fact that some farms and some coal mines are 
better than others. And if every man could step into a 
train and travel whither he would without a ticket, no 
individual could speculate in the difference between 
the traffic from Charing Cross to the Mansion House and 
that from Hatfield to Dunstable. One of the great advan- 
tages of the extension under Socialism of our existing 
non- Anarchist Communism wiU undoubtedly be that huge 
masses of economic rent wiU be sociahzed by it automatic- ' 
ally. All rent arising from the value of commodities in 
general use which can be produced, consumed, and re- 
placed at the will of man to the fuU extent to which they 
are wanted, can be made rent free by communizing them. 
But there must remain outside this solution, first, the 
things which are not in sufiiciently general use to be 
communized at all ; second, things of which an unlimited 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 47 

free supply might prove a nuisance, such as gin or printing ; 
and, thirdly, things for which the demand exceeds the 
supply. 

The last is the instance in which the rent difficulty 
recurs. It would take an extraordinary course of demo- 
htion, reconstruction, and landscape gardening to make 
every dweUing house in London as desirable as a house in 
Park Lane, or facing Regent's Park, or overlooking the 
Embankment Gardens. And since everybody cannot be 
accommodated there, the exceptionally favored persons 
who occupy those sites will certainly be expected to render 
an equivalent for their privilege to those whom they ex- 
clude. Without this there would evidently be no true 
sociaUzatiott of the habitation of London. This means, 
in practice, that a public department must let the houses 
out to the highest bidders, and collect the rents for public 
purposes. Such a department can hardly be called 
Anarchistic, however democratic it may be. I might go 
on to enlarge considerably on the limits to the practicabihty 
of direct Communism, which varies from commodity to 
commodity, but one difficulty, if insurmountable, is as 
conclusive as twenty. 

It is sufficient for our present purpose to have shewn 
that Communism cannot be ideally Anarchistic, because 
it does not in the least do away with the necessity for 
compelling people to pay for what they consume ; and 
even when the growth of social conscience removes that 
difficulty there wiU still remain the question of those com- 
modities to which the simple Communist method of so- 
called " free distribution " is inappUcable. 

One practical point more. Consider the difficulty of 
communizing any branch of distribution without first col- 
lectivizing it. For instance, we might easily communize 
the postal service by simply announcing that in future 
letters would be carried without stamps just as they now 
are with them, the cost being thrown entirely upon imperial 
taxation. But if the postal service were, like most of our 
distributive business, in the hands of thousands of com- 
peting private traders, no such change would be directly 
possible. Communism must grow out of Collectivism, 



48 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

not out of anarchic private enterprise. That is to say, it, 
cannot grow directly out of the present system. 

Personal Liberty. And now, must the transition 
system be a system of despotic coercion ? If so, it 
will be wrecked by the element of natural anarchism 
in humanity. In 1888 a Russian subject, giving evi- 
dence before the Sweating Inquiry in the House of Lords, 
declared that he left the Russian dominion, where he 
worked thirteen hours a day, to work eighteen hours in 
England, because he is freer here. Reason is dumb when 
confronted with a man who, exhausted with thirteen 
hours' toil, will turn to for another five hours for the sake 
of being free to say that Mr. Gladstone is a better man 
than Lord SaUsbury, and ' to read MiU, Spencer, and 
Reynolds' Newspaper in the six hours left to him for sleep. 
It brings to mind the story of the American judge who 
tried to induce a runaway slave to return to the plantation 
by pointing out how much better he had been treated 
than the free wage-negro of the Abohtionist states. " Yes," 
said the runaway ; " but would you go back if you were in 
my place ? " The judge turned Abolitionist at once. 
These things are not to be reasoned away. Man wiU sub- 
mit to fate, circumstance, society, anything that comes 
impersonally over him ; but against the personal oppressor, 
whether parent, schoolmaster, overseer, official chief, or 
king, he eternally rebels. Like the Russian, he will rather 
be compelled by " necessity " to agree to work eighteen 
hours than ordered by a master to work thirteen. No 
modem nation, if deprived of personal liberty or national 
autonomy, would stop to think of its economic position. 
EstabUsh a form of Sociahsm which shall deprive the people 
of their sense of personal hberty, and, though it double 
their rations and halve their working hours, they wiU begin 
to conspire against it before it is a year old. We only 
disapprove of monopoUsts : we hate masters. 

Then, since we are too dishonest for Communism without 
taxation or compulsory labor, and too insubordinate to 
tolerate task work under personal compulsion, how can we 
order the transition so as to introduce just distribution 
without Communism, and maintain the incentive to labor 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 49 

without mastership ? The answer is, by Democracy. 
And now, having taken a positive attitude at last, I must 
give up criticizing the Anarchists, and defend Democracy 
against Anarchist criticism. 

Democracy. I now accordingly return to Mr. Tucker's 
criticism of State Socialism, which, for the sake of precision, 
had better be called Social-Democracy. There is a State 
Socialism — ^that of Bismarck ; of the extinct young Eng- 
land party ; of the advocates of moralized Capitahsm ; 
and of mob contemners generally — ^which is not Social- 
Democracy, but Social-Despotism, and may be dismissed 
as essentially no more hopeful than a system of Abstemious 
Gluttony or Straightforward Mendacity would be. Mr. 
Tucker, as an American, passes it over as not worth powder 
and shot : he clearly indicates a democratic State by his 
repeated references to the majority principle, and in par- 
ticular by his assertion that " there would be but one article 
in the constitution of a State SociaUstic country : ' The 
right of the majority is absolute.' " Having thus driven 
Democracy back on its citadel, he proceeds to cannonade 
it as follows : — 

" Under the system of State Socialism, which holds the com- 
munity responsible for the health, wealth, and wisdom of the 
individual, the community, through its majority expression, will 
insist more and more on prescribing the conditions of health, wealth, 
and wisdom, thus impairing and finally destroying individual 
independence, and with it all sense of individual responsibility. 

" Whatever, then, the State Socialists may claim or disclaim, 
their system, if adopted, is doomed to end in a State religion, to 
the expense of which all must contribute, and at the altar of which 
all must kneel ; a State school of medicine, by whose practitioners 
the sick must invariably be treated ; a State system of hygiene, 
prescribing what all must and must not eat, drink, wear, and do ; 
a State code of morals, which will not content itself with punishing 
crime, but will prohibit what the majority decide to be vice ; a 
State system of instruction, which shall do away with all private 
schools, academies and colleges ; a State nursery, in wmch all 
children must be brought up in common at the public expense ; 
and, finally, a State family, with an attempt at stirpiculture, or 
scientific breeding, in which no man or woman wUl be allowed to 
have children if the State prohibits them, and no man or woman 
can refuse to have children if the State orders them. Thus will 
Authority achieve its acme, and Monopoly be carried to its highest 
power." 
D 



50 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

In reading this one is reminded of the danger of assum- 
ing that whatever is not white must be black. Mr. Tucker, 
on the ground that " it has ever been the tendency of power 
to add to itself, to enlarge its sphere, to encroach beyond 
the limits set for it," admits no alternative to the total 
subjection of the individual, except the total abolition of 
the State. If matters really could and did come to that 
I am afraid the individual would have to go under in any 
case ; for the total abohtion of the State in this sense means 
the total abohtion of the collective force of society, to 
aboUsh which it would be necessary to abohsh society 
itself. There are two ways of doing this. One, the aboli- 
tion of the individuals composing society, could not be 
carried out without an interference with their personal 
claims much more serious than that required, even on 
Mr. Tucker's shewing, by Social-Democracy. The other, 
the dispersion of the human race into independent 
hermitages over the globe at the rate of twenty-five to the 
square mile, would give rise to considerable inequality of 
condition and opportunity as between the hermits of 
Terra del Fuego and those of the Riviera, and would suit 
only a few temperaments. The dispersed units would 
soon reassociate ; and the moment they did so, good-bye 
to the sovereignty of the individual. If the majority 
beUeved in an angry and jealous god, then. State or no 
State, they would not permit an individual to offend that 
god and bring down his wrath upon them : they would 
rather stone and burn the individual in propitiation. 
They would not suffer the individual to go naked among 
them ; and if he clothed himself in an unusual way, which 
struck them as being ridiculous or scandalous, they would 
laugh at him, refuse him admission to their feasts, object 
to be seen taUdng with him in the streets, and perhaps lock 
him up as a lunatic. They would not allow him to neglect 
sanitary precautions which they beUeved essential to 
their own immunity from zymotic disease. If the family 
were established among them as it is estabhshed among 
us, they would not suffer him to intermarry within certain 
degrees of kinship. Their demand would so rule the market 
that in most places he would find no commodities in the 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 51 

shops except those preferred by a majority of the custo- 
mers ; no schools except those conducted in accordance 
with the ideas of the majority of parents ; no experienced 
doctors except those whose quaUfications inspired con- 
fidence in a whole circle of patients. This is not " the 
coming slavery " of Social-Democracy : it is the slavery 
already come. What is more, there is nothing in the most 
elaborately negative practical program yet put for- 
ward by Anarchism that offers the slightest mitigation of 
it. That in comparison with ideal irresponsible absolute 
freedom it is slavery, cannot be denied. But in comparison 
with the slavery of Robinson Crusoe, which is the most 
Anarchistic alternative Nature, our taskmistress, allows 
us, it is pardonably described as liberty. Robinson 
Crusoe, in fact, is always willing to exchange his unlimited 
license and puny powers for the curtailed license and rela- 
tively immense powers of the " slave " of majorities. For 
if the individual chooses, as in most cases he wiU, to beheve 
and worship as his fellows do, he finds temples built and 
services organized at a cost to himself which he hardly 
feels. The clothes, the food, the furniture which he is 
most Hkely to prefer are ready for him in the shops ; the 
schools in which his children can be taught what their 
feUow-citizens expect them to know are within fifteen 
minutes walk of his door ; and the red lamp of the most 
approved pattern of doctor shines reassuringly at the 
corner of the street. He is free to five with the women of 
his family without suspicion or scandal ; and if he is not 
free to marry them, what does that matter to him, since 
he does not wish to marry them ? And so he rubs along, 
in spite of his slavery. 

" Yes," cries some eccentric individual, " but all this is 
untrue of me. I want to marry my deceased wife's sister. 
I am prepared to prove that your authorized system of 
medicine is nothing but a debased survival of witchcraft. 
Your schools are chUd prisons, boy farms, where our future 
citizens are tamed and broken hke performing beasts. Your 
universities stamp men as educated when they have lost 
sJl power to think for themselves. The taB hats and 
starched shirts which you force me to wear, and with- 



52 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

out which I cannot successfully practice as a ph3?sician, 
clergyman, schoolmaster, lawyer, or merchant, are incon- 
venient, unsanitary, ugly, pompous, and ofEensive. Your 
temples are devoted to a god in whom I do not believe J 
and even if I did behave in him I should still regard your 
popular forms of worship as only redeemed from gross 
superstition by their obvious insincerity. Science teaches 
me that my proper food is good bread and good fruit : 
your boasted food supply offers me cows and pigs instead. 
Your care for my health consists in tapping the common 
sewer, with its deadly typhoid gases, into my house, 
besides discharging its content^ into the river, which is 
my natural bath and fountain. Under color of protecting 
my person and property you forcibly take my money to 
support an army of soldiers and policemen for the execu- 
tion of barbarous and detestable laws ; for the waging of 
wars which I abhor ; and for the subjection of my person 
to those legal rights of property which compel me to seD 
myself for a wage to an idle class, the maintenance of which 
I hold to be the greatest evil of our time. Your tyranny 
makes my very individuality a hindrance to me : I am 
outdone and outbred by the mediocre, the docile, the time- 
serving. Evolution under such conditions means degene- 
racy : therefore I demand the abohtion of all these of&cious 
compulsions, and proclaim myself an Anarchist." 

The proclamation is not surprising under the circum- 
stances ; but it does not mend the matter in the least, nor 
would it if every person were to repeat it with enthusiasm, 
and the whole people to fly to arms for Anarchism. The 
majority cannot help its tjnranny even if it would. The 
giant Winkelmeier must have found our doorways in- 
convenient, just as men of five feet or less find the slope 
of the floor in a theatre not sufi&ciently steep to enable 
them to see over the heads of those in front. But whilst 
the average height of a man is 5ft. Sin. there is no redress 
for such grievances. Builders will accommodate doors 
and floors to the majority, and not to the minority. For 
since either the majority or the minority must be incom- 
moded, evidently the more powerful must have its way. 
There may be no indisputable reason why it ought, and 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM S3 

any clever Tory can give exceEent reasons why it ought 
not ; but the fact remains that it will, whether it ought 
or not. 

And this is what reaUy settles the question as be- 
tween democratic majorities and minorities. Where their 
interests conflict, the weaker side must go to the wall, 
because, as the evU involved is no greater than that of the 
stronger going to the waU, the majority is not restrained 
by any scruple from compelling the weaker to give way. 
Indeed, the evil is decidedly less if the calculation proceeds 
by the popular method of always estimating an evil suffered 
by a hundred persons as a hundred times as great as the 
same evil suffered by only one. This, however, is absurd. 
A hundred starving men are not a hundred times as hungry 
as one starving man, any more than a hundred five-foot- 
eight men are each five hundred and sixty-six feet eight 
inches high. But they are a hundred times as strong a 
poUtical force. Though the evil may not be cumulative, 
the power to resist it is. 

In practice this does not involve either the absolute 
power of majorities or " the infaUibiUty of the odd man." 
There are some matters in which the course preferred by 
the minority in no way obstructs that preferred by the 
majority. There are many more in which the obstruction 
is easier to bear than the cost of suppressing it. For it 
costs something to suppress even a minority of one. The 
commonest example of that minority is the lunatic with 
a delusion ; yet it is found quite safe to entertain dozens 
of delusions, and be generally an extremely selfish and 
troublesome idiot, in spite of the power of majorities ; for 
until you go so far that it clearly costs less to lock you up 
than to leave you at large, the majority wiU not take the 
trouble to set itself in action against you. Thus a mini- 
mum of individual hberty is secured, under any system, 
to the smallest minority. 

It is true that as minorities grow, they sometimes, in 
forfeiting the protection of insignificance, lose more in 
immunity than they gain in numbers ; so that probably 
the weakest minority is not the smallest, but rather that 
which is too large to be disregarded and too weak to be 



54 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

feared ; but before and after that dangerous point is 
weathered, minorities wield considerable power. The 
notion that they are ciphers because the majority could 
vanquish them in a trial of strength leaves out of account 
the damage they could inflict on the victors during the 
struggle. Ordinarily an unarmed man weighing thirteen 
stone can beat one weighing only eleven ; but there are 
very few emergencies in which it is worth his while to do 
it, because if the weaker man resists to the best of his 
ability (which is always possible) the victor wiU be consider- 
ably worse off after the fight than before it. In 1861 the 
Northern and Southern States of America fought, as prize- 
fighters say, " to a finish " ; and the North carried its 
point, yet at such a heavy cost to itself that the Southern 
States have by no means been reduced to ciphers ; for the 
victorious majority has ever since felt that it would be 
better to give way on any but the most vital issues than 
to provoke such another struggle. But it is not often that 
a peremptory question arises between a majority and 
minority of a whole nation. In most matters only a 
fragment of the nation has any interest one way or the 
other ; and the same man who is in a majority on one 
question is in a minority on another, and so learns 
by experience that minorities have rights which must be 
attended to. Minorities, too, as in the case of the Irish 
Party in the English Parhament, occasionally hold the 
balance of power between majorities which recognize their 
rights and majorities which deny them. Further, much 
can be done by decentralization to limit the power Of the 
majority of the whole nation to questions upon which a 
divided policy is impracticable. 

In short, then. Democracy does not give majorities 
absolute power, nor does it enable them to reduce minorities 
to ciphers. Such limited power of coercing minorities 
as majorities must possess, is not given to them by Demo- 
cracy any more than it can be taken away from them by 
Anarchism. A couple of men are stronger than one : that 
is aU. There are only two ways of neutraHzing this natural 
fact. One is to convince men of the wickedness of abusing 
the majority power, and then to make them virtuous 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 55 

enough to refrain from doing it on that account. The 
other is to realize Lytton's fancy of mil by inventing a 
means by which each individual will be able to destroy 
all his feUows with a flash of his own electricity, so that 
the majority may have as much reason to fear the individual 
as he to fear the majority. No method of doing either 
is to be found in Individualist or Communist Anarchism ; 
consequently these systems, as far as the evils of majority 
tjranny are concerned, are no better than the Social- 
Democratic program of adult suffrage with maintenance 
of representatives, payment of poUing expenses from 
public funds, &c. Faulty devices enough, no doubt, but 
capable of accomplishing all that is humanly possible at 
present to make the State representative of the nation ; 
to make the administration trustworthy ; and to secure 
the utmost power to each individual and consequently to 
minorities. What better can we have whilst collective 
action is inevitable ? Indeed, in the mouths of the reaUy 
able Anarchists, Anarchism means simply the utmost 
attainable thoroughness of Democracy. Kropotkin, for 
example, speaks of free development from the simple to 
the composite by " the free union of free groups " ; and 
his illustrations are " the societies for study, for commerce, 
for pleasure and recreation,", which have sprung up to 
meet the varied requirements of the individual of our age. 
But in every one of these societies there is government by 
a council elected annually by a majority of voters ; so that 
Kropotkin is not at all afraid of the democratic machinery 
and the majority power. Mr. Tucker speaks of " volun- 
tary association," but gives no illustrations, and indeed 
avows that " Anarchists are simply un terrified Jeffersonian 
Democrats." He says, indeed, that " if the individual 
has a right to govern himself, all external government is 
tyranny " ; but if governing oneself means doing what 
one pleases without regard to the interests of neighbors, 
then the individual has flatly no such right. If he has 
no such right, the interference of his neighbors to make 
him behave socially, though it is " external government," 
is not tsnranny ; and if it were they would not refrain from 
it on that account. On the other hand, if governing one- 



56 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

self means compelling oneself to act with a due regard to the 
interests of the neighbors, then it is a right which the indi- 
vidual cannot exercise without external government, because 
the neighbors must have a say in the matter. Either way, 
the phrase comes to nothing ; for it would be easy to shew 
by a Uttle play upon it, either that altruism is really ex- 
ternal government or that democratic State authority is 
really self-government. 

Mr. Tucker's adjective, " voluntary," as applied to 
associations for defence or the management of ' affairs, 
must not be taken as implying that there is any very wide 
choice open in these matters. Such association is really 
compulsory, since if it be neglected affairs wiH remain un- 
managed and communities defenceless. Nature makes 
short work of our aspirations towards utter impunity. She 
leaves communities in no wise " free " to choose whether 
they will labor and govern themselves. It is either that 
or starvation and chaos. Her tasks are inexorably set : 
her penalties are inevitable : her payment is strictly " pay- 
ment by results." All the individual can do is to shift 
and dodge his share of the task on to the shoulders of others, 
or filch some of their " natural wage " to add to his own. 
If they are fools enough to suffer it, that is their own affair 
as far as Nature is concerned. But it is the aim of Social- 
Democracy to establish fair sharing in the inevitable labor 
imposed by the eternal tyranny of Nature, and so secure 
to every individual no less than his fair quota of the nation's 
product in return for no more than his fair quota of the 
nation's labor. These are the best terms humanity can 
make with its tyrant. In the eighteenth century it was 
easy for the philosophers and for Adam Smith to think of 
this rule of Nature as being " natural liberty " in contrast 
to the odious and stupid despotism of castes, priests, and 
kings — the detested " dominion of man over man." But we, 
in detecting the rashness of Adam Smith's trust in private 
property and laisser-faire as a recipe for natural liberty, 
begin to see that though there is political liberty, there is no 
natural liberty, but only natural law remorselessly enforced. 
And so we shake our heads when we see Liberty on the. 
title-page of Mr. Tucker's paper, just as we laugh when we 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM S7 

see The Coming Slavery on Herbert Spencer's Man 
and The State. 

We can now fasten the threads of our discussion. We 
have seen that private appropriation of land in any form, 
whether Hmited by Individuahst Anarchism to occupying 
owners or not, means the unjust distribution of a vast fund 
of social wealth called rent, which can by no means be 
claimed as due to the labor of any particular individual 
or class of individuals. We have seen that Communist 
Anarchism, though it partly — and only partly — avoids the 
rent difficulty, is, with the morals developed under existing 
Unsocialism, impracticable. We have seen that the 
delegation of individual powers by voting ; the creation 
of authoritative pubUc bodies ; the supremacy of the 
majority in the last resort ; and the estabUshment and 
even endowment, either directly and officially or indirectly 
and unconsciously, of conventional forms of practice in 
religion, marriage, medicine, education, food, clothing, 
and criminal law, are, whether they be evils or not, in- 
herent in society itself, and must be submitted to with the 
help of such protection against their abuse as democratic 
institutions more than any others afford. When Demo- 
cracy fails, there is no antidote for intolerance save the 
spread of better sense. No form of Anarchism yet sug- 
gested provides any escape. Like bad weather in winter, 
intolerance does much mischief ; but as, when we have 
done our best in the way of overcoats, umbrellas, and good 
fires, we have to put up with the winter ; so, when we have 
done om: best in the way of Democracy, we must put up 
with the State. 

In thus demonstrating the impossibihties of Anarchism, 
I have cast a net wide enough to catch more popular fish. 
For I have also demonstrated the final impossibility of 
current Conservatism and LiberaUsm. These also ignore 
the phenomenon of economic rent, and assume that indus- 
trious and sober men will thrive, and idle and dissolute ones 
starve, if only contracts are enforced and the peace kept 
by the police on the basis of private property. That error 
wiU kin any civilization in the long run, Anarchists or no 
Anarchists. 



58 ^SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

The Anarchist Spirit. I suppose I must not leave the 
subject without a word as to the value of what I will call 
the Anarchist spirit as an element in progress. Not that 
I would disarm the Anarchist debater by paying him com- 
pUments. On the contrary, when I have to deal with the 
gentlemen who declaim against all national and municipal 
projects, and clamor for the abohtion of Parliaments and 
County Councils ; who call for a desperate resistance to 
rent, taxes, representative government, and organized 
collective action of every sort; I always invite them to 
regard me as their inveterate opponent — as one who re- 
gards such doctrine, however sincerely it may be put for- 
ward, as at best an encouragement to the workers to 
neglect doing what is possible under pretext of waiting 
for the impossible, and at worst as furnishing the reac- 
tionary newspapers in England, and the pohce agents on 
the Continent, with evidence as to the alleged foUies and 
perils of Socialism. But at the same time it must be 
understood that I do not stand here to defend the State 
as we know it. Bakounine's comprehensive aspiration 
to destroy all States and EstabHshed Churches, with their 
rehgious, poHtical, judicial, financial, criminal, academic, 
economic, and social laws and institutions, seems to me 
perfectly justifiable and intelligible from the point of view 
of the ordinary " educated man," who believes that insti- 
tutions make men instead of men making institutions. 
I fully admit and vehemently urge that the State at present 
is a huge machine for robbing and slave-driving the poor 
by brute force. You may, if you are a stupid or comfort- 
ably-off person, think that the poUceman at the comer 
is the guardian of law and order ; that the gaol, with those 
instruments of torture, the treadmill, plank bed, sohtary 
cell, cat o' nine tails, and gallows, is a place to make people 
cease to do evil and learn to do well. But the primary 
function of the pohceman, and that for which his other 
functions are only bhnds, is to see that you do not lie down 
to sleep in this country without paying an idler for the 
privilege ; that you do not taste bread until you have paid 
the idler's toll in the price of it ; that you do not resist the 
starving blackleg who is dragging you down to his level 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 59 

for the idler's profit by offering to do your work for a 
starvation wage. Attempt any of these things and you 
will be haled off and tortured in the name of law and order, 
honesty, social equilibrium, safety of property and person, 
public duty, Christianity, moraUty, and what not, as a 
vagrant, a thief, and a rioter. Your soldier, ostensibly 
a heroic and patriotic defender of his country, is reaUy an 
unfortunate man, driven by destitution to offer himself 
as food for powder for the sake of regular rations, shelter, 
and clothing ; and he must, on pain of being arbitrarily 
imprisoned, punished with petty penances Hke a naughty 
child, pack-drilled, flogged or shot, aU in the name of " disci- 
pline," do anything he is ordered to, from standing in his 
red coat in the hall of an opera house as a mere ornament, 
to flogging his comrade or committing murder. And his 
primary function is to come to the rescue of the pohce- 
man when the latter is overpowered. Members of ParUa- 
ment whose sole quahfications for election were £1,000 
loose cash, an " independent " income, and a vulgar strain 
of ambition ; parsons quoting scripture for the purposes 
of the squire ; lawyers selling their services to the highest 
bidder at the bar, and maintaining the supremacy of the 
moneyed class on the bench ; juries of employers mas- 
querading as the peers of proletarians in the dock ; Univer- 
sity professors elaborating the process known as the educa- 
tion of a gentleman ; artists striving to tickle the fancy or 
flatter the vanity of the aristocrat or the plutocrat ; work- 
men doing their work as badly and slowly as they dare, so 
as to make the most of their job ; employers starving and 
overworking their hands and adulterating their goods as 
much as they dare : these form the bulk of the actual living 
material of those imposing abstractions known as the 
State, the Church, the Law, the Constitution, Education, 
the Fine Arts, and Industry. Every institution, as 
Bakounine saw, religious, pohtical, financial, judicial, and 
so on, is corrupted by the fact that the men in it either 
belong to the propertied class themselves or must sell 
themselves to it in order to live. AH the purchasing power 
that is left to buy men's souls with after their bodies are 
fed is in the hands of the rich ; and everywhere, from the 



6o SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

Parliament which wields the irresistible coercive forces of 
the bludgeon, bayonet, machine gun, dynamite shell, prison 
and scaffold, down to the pettiest centre of shabby-genteel 
social pretension, the rich pay the piper and call the tune. 
Naturally, they use their power to steal more money to 
continue paying the piper ; and thus all society becomes 
a huge conspiracy and hypocrisy. The ordinary man is 
insensible to the fraud just as he is insensible to the taste 
of water, which, being constantly in contact with his 
mucous membrane, seems to have no taste at all. The 
iniquitous conditions on which our social system is based 
are necessarily in constant contact with our ethical mucous 
membrane ; and so we lose our sense of their omnipresent 
meanness and dishonor. The insensibihty, however, is 
not quite complete ; for there is a period in Ufe which is 
called the age of disillusion, which means the age at which 
a man discovers that his generous and honest impulses 
are incompatible with success in business ; that the 
institutions he has reverenced are shams ; and that he 
must join the conspiracy or go to the wall, even though 
he feels that the conspiracy is fundamentally ruinous to 
himself and his feUow-conspirators. The secret of writers 
like Ruskin, Morris, and Kropotkin, is that they see the 
whole imposture through and through, in spite of its 
famiharity, and of the illusions created by its temporal 
power, its riches, its splendor, its prestige, its intense 
respectabiUty, its unremitting piety, and its high moral 
pretension. But Kropotkin, as I have shewn, is really an 
advocate of free Democracy ; and I venture to suggest 
that he describes himself as an Anarchist rather from the 
point of view of the Russian recoihng from a despotism 
compared to which Democracy seems to be no govermnent 
at all, than from the point of view of the American or 
Englishman who is free enough already to begin grumbhng 
over Democracy as " the tyranny of the majority " and 
" the coming slavery." I suggest this with the more 
confidence because William Morris's views were largely 
identical with those of Kropotkin ; yet Morris, after 
patient and intimate observation of Communist Anarchism 
as a working propaganda in England, definitely dissociated 



THE IMPOSSIBILITIES OF ANARCHISM 6i 

himself from it, and shewed by his sketch of the Com- 
munist folk-mote in his News from Nowhere how sanely 
alive he was to the impossibility of any development of 
the voluntary element in social action sufficient to enable 
individuals or minorities to take pubhc action without fhst 
obtaining the consent of the majority. 

On the whole, then, I do not regard the extreme hostihty 
to existing institutions which inspires Communist Anar- 
chism as being a whit more dangerous to Social-Democracy 
than the same spirit as it inspires the peculiar Toryism of 
Ruskin. Much more definitely opposed to us is the sur- 
vival of that intense jealousy of the authority of the govern- 
ment over the individual which was the mainspring of the 
progress of the eighteenth century. Only those who forget 
the lessons of history the moment they have served their 
immediate turn will feel otherwise than reassured by the 
continued vitahty of that jealousy among us. But this 
consideration does not remove the economic objections 
which I have advanced as to the practical program of 
Individuahst Anarchism. And even apart from these 
objections, the Social-Democrat is compelled, by contact 
with hard facts, to turn his back decisively on useless 
denunciation of the State. It is easy to say, Abohsh the 
State ; but the State will sell you up, lock you up, blow 
you up, knock you down, bludgeon, shoot, stab, hang : 
in short, abohsh you if you Uft a hand against it. 

Fortunately there is, as we have seen, a fine impartiality 
about the pohceman and the soldier, who are the cutting 
edge of the State power. They take their wages and obey 
their orders without asking questions. If those orders are 
to demohsh the homestead of every peasant who refuses 
to take the bread out of his chUdxen's mouths in order 
that his landlord may have money to spend as an idle 
gentleman in London, the soldier obeys. But if his orders 
were to help the poUce to collect an Income Tax (of not more 
than twenty shiUings in the pound) on unearned incomes, 
the soldier would do that with equal devotion to duty, 
and perhaps with a certain private zest that might be 
lacking in the other case. Now orders of this kind come 
ultimately from the State : meaning, in this country, the 



62 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

House of Commons. A House of Commons consisting of 
660 gentlemen and 10 workers will order the soldier to 
take money from the people for the landlords. A House 
of Commons consisting of 660 workers and 10 gentlemen, 
will probably, unless the 660 are fools, order the soldier 
to take money from the landlords to buy the land for 
the people. With that hint I leave the matter, in the 
fuU conviction that the State, in spite of the Anarchists, 
will continue to be used against the people by the classes 
until it is used by the people against the classes with equal 
ability and equal resolution. 



Ill 

THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 
By SIDNEY BALL, M.A. 

Socialism and Character. 

MODERN Socialism, or Collectivism, is often re- 
garded as a typical expression of the neglect, or 
even the denial, of the principle that in social reform 
" character is the condition of conditions." At first sight, 
it seems true that character has not been put in the fore- 
ground of Socialist discussion : its emphasis appears to be 
laid almost exclusively on machinery, on a reconstruction 
of the material conditions and organization of hfe. But 
machinery is a means to an end, as much to a Socialist as 
to any one else ; and the end, at any rate, as conceived by 
the Sociahst, is the development of human power and 
capacity of life. The quarrel with SociaUsts cannot be, 
then, that they mistake the means for the end, but either 
that they take a low or narrow view of human nature, or 
that the means they suggest wiU lower rather than raise 
the scale of human life. 

The evolution in modern Socialism.— It is important 
that we should realize the nature of the development 
which has been at work in the conception of Sociahsm. If 
Socialism repeats itself, it repeats itself with a difference. 
If we fairly compare the Socialism of the earUer with that 
of the latter part of the century, we shall find that, how- 
ever much they have in common, there is a sense in which 
the conception of Socialism is entirely modern. Sociahsm 
would not be the vital thing it is if it remained un- 
affected by the development of social and industrial 
experience and the general progress of scientific thought. 



64 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

The context is different, and even when the language is 
the same the meaning is changed. The claim of modem 
Socialism to be " scientific " may be just or not, but it 
means by " scientific " such an economy as shall be on a 
line with the modern scientific treatment and conception 
of hfe. Its dominating idea is that of conscious selection 
in social hfe, or of the expression of practical economics 
in terms of quahty of life. From the point of view of its 
alleged indifference to character the aims of modem 
Socialism may be described as an endeavour to readjust 
the machinery of industry in such a way that it can at once 
depend upon and issue in a higher kind of character and 
social type than is encouraged by the conditions of ordi- 
nary competitive enterprise. If it does, in a sense, want 
to make things easier, it is only for the worker, and not 
for the idler ; and the problem with which it is concerned 
is not primarily a more or less of enjojmient, but a more 
or less of opportunity for development of character and 
individuahty. Its criterion of economic machinery is 
simply — does it or does it not make for a greater amount 
and quality of hfe and character ? 

The older Socialism rested upon such ideas as " the 
right to live," " the right to work," " payment according 
to needs," the denial of " the rent of ability," " expro- 
priation without compensation," " minimizing " or " ma- 
terializing " of wants — all ideas of retrogressive rather 
than of progressive " selection." But it would not be 
too much to say that all these ideas are either silently 
ignored or expressly repudiated by modem Socialism. 
The " ideology " of the older Sociahsts has given way to 
a deliberately, and in some ways rigidly, scientific treat- 
ment of life. Modem Sociahsm recognizes the laws of 
social growth and development in setting itself against 
catastrophic irapossibilism and the manufacture of me- 
chanical Utopias ; it recognizes the moral continuity of 
society in its consideration for vested interests ; it does 
not base industrial organization on " the right to work " so 
much as on the right of the worker, not on " pajmient ac- 
cording to needs " so much as " payment according to 
services " ; it recognizes the remuneration of abilityj 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 65 

provided that the ability does not merely represent a 
monopoly of privileged and non-competitive advantage ; 
it is aware of the utility of capital, without making the 
individuaUst's confusion between the eriiplojTment of 
capital and the ownership of it, between the productive 
and proprietary classes ; it is not concerned about the 
inequality of property, except so far as it conflicts with 
sound national economy ; it does not desire so much to 
minimize as to rationahze wants, and attaches the utmost 
importance to the qualitative development of consump- 
tion ; and, finally, not to enumerate more distinctly 
economic developments, it recognizes " the abiding neces- 
sity for contest, competition, and selection," as means of 
development, when it presses for such an organization of 
industry as shall make selection according to abihty and 
character the determining factor in the remuneration of 
labour. 

Socialism and competition. — So far from attempting to 
eliminate " competition " from hfe, it endeavours to raise 
its plane, to make it a competition of character and posi- 
tive social quaUty. The competition which takes the form 
not of doing one's own work as well as possible, but of 
preventing any one else from doing the same work — the 
form of competition, that is, in which the gain of one man 
is the loss of another — is of no social value. The only 
competition that can advance individual or social hfe is 
simply a corollary of co-operation ; it implies the recog- 
j nition of a common good and a common interest which 
gives to our " individual " work its meaning, its quaUty, 
and its value ; and the further recognition that a com- 
petitor is also a co-operator. If a seeker after truth 
regards another seeker merely as a competitor, it is a sure 
sign that it is not truth he cares for ; and we are only too 
famihar with the consequences of a system of industry 
which does not provide for the disinterestedness of alii 
genuine production. The competition to get as much as 
possible for one's self is incompatible with the competition 
to get a thing done as well as possible. It is this kind of 
socially selective rivalry that SociaUsra is concerned to 



66 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

maintain ; and the two kinds of competition belong, as 
Plato said, to two distinct " arts." 

Socialism affirms a standard.— This is the meaning, 
for instance, of a "standard" as oppo8ed to a "market" 
wage. The CoHectivist poUcy of the " Union " wage for 
skilled, and a minimum wage for unskilled labour, is a 
dehberate preference of a form of competition which pro- 
motes efficiency over a form of competition which aims at 
(apparent) cheapness. Which is the most productive 
method of selection ? The Individuahst policy results in 
the degradation of labour and the increase of burdens upon 
the State ; the SociaUst policy, so far from favouring the 
weak, favours the strong, if weakness and strength are 
interpreted as relevant to social value ; it is a process of 
conscious social selection by which the industrial residuum 
is naturally sifted and made manageable for some kind of 
restorative, discipUnary, or, it may be, " surgical " treat- 
ment. The organization of dock labourers and the ex- 
tension of factory inspection to sweated industries follow 
the same Unes. Any such form of collective interference 
as the freeing of education, or the weakening of protected 
and non-competitive privilege, is in favour of the com- 
petition which is not simply a struggle for (unqualified) 
individual existence, but for existence in a society which 
rests upon the distribution of " rights " according to 
character and capacity. In this way it not only favours 
• the growth of the fittest within the group, but also of the 
fittest group in the world-competition of societies. The 
whole point of Collectivism is the recognition by society of 
its interest as a society in a certain type of character and 
quality of existence. " Can there be anything better for 
the interests of a State," Plato asks, " than that its men 
and women should be as good as possible ? " It is just 
this social reference that explains the demand which 
Sociahsts make upon the organization of industry. Their 
whole quarrel with private competitive enterprise is that 
it does not give a qualitative form to the struggle for exist- 
ence, and does not — or rather cannot — concern itself with 
the maintenance of a standard of life 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 67 

Individualism denies a standard. — ^To speak therefore 
of the principles of Collectivism as " lying at the root of a 
compulsory poor rate " reveals an astonishing incapacity 
for grasping the distinction between the organization of 
industry (upon selective lines) and the distribution of 
relief — a rhle which SociaHsts would contend the individual- 
istic system and method of industry has forced upon " the 
State." The Poor Law system, so far from being a con- 
cession to Socialism, is a device of IndividuaUsm ; which 
indeed could not " work," unless its logical consequences 
were intercepted by the workhouse and the infirmary. 
The Poor Law ministers to a system which, in the judg- 
ment of Socialists, makes for deterioration — a system 
which lends itself with fatal facility to partial and dis- 
continuous employment, starvation wages, cheap and 
nasty production, wasteful, useless, and characterless com- 
petition. Collectivism is nothing if not constructive, and 
constructive on lines of social selection ; the Poor Law 
system as it now exists serves the purpose of a waste- 
receiver of " private enterprise." Collectivism would not, 
indeed, dispense with the necessity of a poor law ; so far, 
however, as it provided for the able-bodied idler, the work- 
house woTold be simply a branch of the criminal department 
of the State. Collectivism would provide for the " de- 
serving " and incapable, partly by providing against them, 
partly by pubhc and humane institutions, partly by the 
more effective use to which weakness can be put under a 
better organization of industry ; while pensions in old age 
would be the logical complement of honourable pubhc 
service. It is no doubt true that this kind of selection is 
forcing itself upon the system of private commercial enter- 
prise in the interests of economic production, and Professor 
Loria has based upon this fact his forecast of the gradual 
evolution of capitaUstic industry into some form of asso- 
ciated labour. But the economy of high wages, of regular 
and organized labour, and of genuine production, is dis- 
counted by the active competition of low wages, casual 
labour, cheap and adulterated product. And we find, in 
fact, that the competition of quaUty is only'made possible 
by the cessation of " the competition of the market." 



68 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

Monopoly uersus Competition.— This is the significance 
jf the modern Combination, conceived not as a temporary 
speculation, but as a permanent organization of a particular 
industry, based upon the extinction of wasteful rivalry 
between competitive firms. Whatever may be the abuse 
of the Combination, it is clearly a higher tj^e of industrial 
organization ; and its abuse is the occasion of Collecti- 
vism. It certainly makes a standard of work and a 
standard of industrial conditions possible ; and it also 
renders the particular industry much more amenable to 
pubUc opinion and, if need be, public control. And the 
interest of the modern Combination is that it is not an 
artificial creation, but a normal development of modern 
business : it represents a monopoly not of privilege, but 
■of efficiency. It has become, in fact, no longer a question 
between Competition and Collectivism, but between private 
and public monopoly — ^between monopoMes controlled by 
private capitalists and monopoUes controUed by the com- 
munity. Monopohes of local service, again, are stiU higher 
in the industrial scale, so far as they represent the organiza- 
tion of production by the consumers (that is, on the basis 
of rational and persistent wants), and are under direct 
pubhc control. ' And the poHcy of practical Collectivism 
lies in exacting from such monopolies the full measure of 
their capacity, and making them object-lessons in co- 
operative industry. 

Monopoly as a result of selection. — It is, after all, 
only by selection that the collective organization of industry 
can itself prevail, and this is an argument, if any were 
needed, against any catastrophic closure of the present 
system. Hence the significance of the demand that 
government and pubhc bodies should proceed upon a more 
scientific method than private competitive enterprise " can 
well afford" — in the direction of better organization of 
employment, standard wages for standard work, shorter 
hours, and other model conditions of industry. In Glas- 
gow, at the present moment, there is actually a competition 
between municipal tramways and private means of transit ; 
and the whole (if short) history of the municipalization of 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 69 

tramways is full of interest and instruction. Municipal 
management is a higher type of industry, and represents 
a competition of quality. It might be objected that this 
argument points to a mixed system of public and private 
industry, and does not meet the dif&culty that a monopoly 
once estabUshed is liable to deterioration. It does point 
to the means by which public wiU supersede private ad- 
ministration of certain industries : that is, by competition 
and proved superiority of type. But it also assumes that 
the inferior type must give way. StiU, the standard re- 
mains ; it has been to a certain extent set, and to a greater 
extent recognized and approved, by the community. It 
could only fall back with a falling back in the community 
itself — ^that is, in its standard of satisfaction, material and 
moral. The higher type at once makes and depends upon 
its enviroimient. It may, indeed, have become an object 
of local pride and civic self-consciousness ; a competition 
may be set up between one municipality and another, and 
that again would be a competition of quaUty. Readers of 
Unto This Last will remember a suggestion of the same 
kind — not the least fruitful idea of the economist who has 
best understood the real significance of the pre-established 
harmony between ethics and economics. In the same way 
it may be said that the real evil of the " drink traffic " is 
that it is a private, instead of a public, enterprise. 

Collectivism wiU, in fact, proceed by selective experi- 
ments of the kind I have indicated, granting the moral and 
intellectual conditions required by a higher type of admini- 
stration ; and where it does not take the form of social 
ownership, the principle may be just as effective in the 
form of social control — control, that is, in the direction of 
a higher type of industrial character. Mining, railway, 
and factory legislation is, from this point of view, simply 
the application of " standard " ideas to competitive 
industry. 

Socialism and its critics. — If, then, this general account 
of the drift of Collectivism and of its real inwardness be 
at aU true, what becomes of the polemic against Collectivist. 
ideals that underlies the criticism of eminent social 



70 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

philosophers, and of the false antithesis that is so often set 
up between " moral " and " economic " Socialism. All 
the tendencies they attack, Collectivists attack ; but while 
" moral " Socialists are content with ascribing them gene- 
rally to (abstract) moral and intellectual causes, Collecti- 
vists, rightly or wrongly, find that they are moral and 
intellectual causes which are logically connected with the 
whole principle and practice of individualistic or private 
competitive indiistry, and refuse to believe that some un- 
defined miracle of moral agency is better than any intelli- 
gible causation. I propose to deal in detail with this kind 
of objection to Collectivism, mainly with a view to ex- 
hibiting in a clearer light the logical idea and consequences 
of that position. For I wiU readily admit that this task 
is necessary, in view of the, language that has been, and to 
a certain extent stiU is, used by responsible Socialists. I 
admit that there is some excuse for the perversion, or 
rather the construction, of CoUectivist philosophy on 
which the " moral " case against SociaUsm is supposed to 
rest. For in some cases the teaching is ambiguous, in 
others it is evasive, and in certain cases it is demonstrably 
illogical. The philosophy of Collectivism is still in the 
making, and reasonable Collectivists themselves are per- 
fectly aware of the extent to which their social doctrine 
has still to be thought out. But if we can once disengage 
the root idea, we can at any rate say what are logical 
consequences and what are not ; and I hope to show that 
neither " free meals," nor " relief works," nor " pensions 
without services," nor " the abolition of private property " 
are logical deductions from the CoUectivist principle ; they 
are, in fact, the denial of it, arid could not be part of a 
strictly Socialist economy. 

The idea of Collectivism,— What, then, is the idea of 
modem SociaUsm, or CoUectivism ? I take it, SociaUsm 
impUes, first and foremost, the improvement of society by 
society. We may be told that this is going on every day ; 
yes, but not with any clear consciousness of what it is 
about, or of an ideal. Moreover, empirical social reform 
does not go beyond improvements within the existing 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 71 

system, or consider the effects of that system as a whole. 
As a rule, it means the modification of the system by an 
idea which does not belong to it, with the result that it is 
either ineffective or that it hampers the working of the 
system itself. When a prominent statesman can say that 
" We are all sociahsts now," he has reduced the idea of 
socializing individuaUstic commerce to its logical ab- 
surdity ; it only means that we are endeavouring to re- 
arrange the handicap between labourer, capitahst, employer, 
and landlord, according as either becomes the predomi- 
nating partner in legislation. It is impossible to get out 
of the confused aims of social reformers anything Uke a 
point of view, or an idea of social progress ; it is a ques- 
tion of evils rather than ideals. Collectivism, as I have 
said, implies the consciousness by society of a social ideal, 
of a better form of itself, and its distinction lies in its 
clearer consciousness of the end to be attained and its con- 
ception of the means of attaining it. The means, as we 
know, are the collective control or collective administration 
of certain industries by the community as a whole — by the 
people for the people — " the community " meaning parish, 
district, municipality, or nation, as democratically organ- 
ized. (The ordinary formula of the " nationalization of the 
means of production " is unnecessarily prophetic, and is 
rather a hindrance than a help to the understanding of the 
ideal ; by itself, it does not give the point of SociaUsm, and 
belongs to the picture-book method of social philosophy, 
which presents us rather with a ready-made system than 
a principle of action to be progressively appHed.) But, 
clearly, " control," " organization,!' " administration," are 
merely forms, the body without the soul ; we want to know 
— organization in what direction, control to what end ? 
And the answer in quite general and formal terms is (as 
already suggested) a certain kind of existence and a certain 
standard of hfe to be maintained in and through the in- 
dustrial organization of social needs. Mere nationaUza- 
tion, or mere municipalization, of any industry is not 
Sociahsm or Collectivism ; it may be only the substitution 
of corporate for private administration ; the social idea and 
purpose with which Collectivism is concerned may be 



7i SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

completely absent. The presence of the idea is recognized 
by the extent to which the public machinery is made the 
conscious and visible embodiment of an ideal type of 
industry, taking form in certain standard conditions of 
production as also certain standard requirements of con-_ 
sumption. It is agreed that there are certain things which 
society is so concerned in getting done in a certain way 
and after a certain type, that it cannot leave them to 
private enterprise. We may recall Aristotle's arguments 
in favour of pubhc as against private education ; the 
important consideration being that education involves 
principles affecting the kind of social tjTpe and character 
which a particular society is interested in maintaining. 
The modem industrial state is beginning to realize that it 
is as deeply concerned in the conditions of industry that 
determine for better or worse, the type and character of its 
. citizens and the standard of its social life. This recogiution 
impUes the action of the general or collective will and 
purpose (which is, of course, also the wiU and purpose of 
individuals) represented by the social regulation of in- 
dustry in the interest of a standard of industrial character 
and production — a standard of life which society as society 
is concerned to maintain. The CoUectivist calls upon 
society to face the logical requirements of the situation ; 
rightly or wrongly, he conceives that a requirement of this 
kind is incompatible with the existence and the raison 
d'Hre of " private competitive enterprise." He is trying 
to familiarize the community with the incompatibility by 
example and practice, and at the same time to show that 
it is not with business, but with modem competitive busi- 
ness, that the requirement is incompatible. What is good 
in ethics cannot be bad in economics, and vice versa, is an 
axiom of SociaUsm. A standard wage, for instance, is 
from the point of view of modem commerce a non-competi- 
tive wage, for it is not regulated by the supply and demand 
of the market ; but from the point of view of good business 
and also good ethics, it is competitive ; men are selected 
for their efficiency, and not for their cheapness. The 
attempt to enforce this method of remuneration upon 
government and public bodies, as also to ehminate the 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM ?3 

contractor, is described and resented by the rate-payer as 
" CoUectivist " ; he is right in his description, not in his 
resentment. The School Board, again, adapts its scale of 
salaries not to the supply of the market, but to the service 
required. It is only an Individualist who can talk of 
" high " wages and " high " salaries in this connection ; 
a high wage is simply a wage that is adequate to a certain 
kind of work done at its best ; the wage is high according 
as the conception of the conditions required for the highest 
performance of the work is high. The Socialism of the 
School Board is, in the last resort, nothing else than a high 
standard of education, and therefore of the educator and 
his conditions of hfe. It is well to put it in this way, 
because it is often supposed that Collectivism or Socialism 
is simply a policy of securing better conditions of hfe for 
the worker, which gives the impression that it is a class 
and not a social point of view. The starting-point of social 
economics is, after aU, consumption, and again its quahta- 
tive, not merely its quantitative development, rather than 
the conditions of work and worker as such ; they are, of 
course, really aspects of the same thing, as readers of 
Ruskin are in no danger of forgetting. Accordingly, we 
find that the economic problem is not approached by the 
modem Socialist primarily from the side of " distribution," 
except so far as it affects the character of " production " or 
" consumption." Anyhow, the great thing is that the 
point of view is qualitative ; or, the regulative idea of 
Socialism is the maintenance of a certain standard of hfe, 
whether it is looked at from the point of view of the con- 
dition of the producer or his product. The whole point of ^ 
factory legislation, again, lies in its attempt to exercise 
such social control over the conditions of industry as wiUl 
prevent them from lowering the standard of hfe which 
society as society is interested in maintaining ; it is be- 
coming less sentimental, and more scientific in its scope ; 
and, again, it is now called " CoUectivist." 

Socialism and Humanism. — From the standpoint of 
such an interpretation of the idea and the phenomena of 
Collectivism (which is, after all, sufiiciently justified by the 



74 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

language of its opponents), the suggestion that it is theo- 
retically careless of the type, indifferent to any standard 
of life, or to the value of character, is somewhat wide of 
the mark. So long as Socialism remains true to its scientific 
conception and treatment of hfe, it is not Mkely to commit 
itself to means of improvement at the cost of the type. 
Its animating idea is neither pity nor benevolence — at 
least, not as usually understood — but the freest and fullest 
development of human quahty and power. It is character- 
istic of modem Socialism or Collectivism that its typical 
representatives are men who have been profoundly in- 
fluenced by the positive and scientific conception of social 
hfe ; while its popular propagandists have derived their 
inspiration from Ruskin, who is, in economics at least, a 
profound humanist. What is common to the indictment 
of modern Industrialism, set out in " good round terms " 
by Ruskin, Morris, Wagner (not to mention others), on the 
one hand, and Merrie England on the other, is their sense of 
the frightful and quite incalculable waste and loss of 
quality (in producer and product) that it seems to involve. 
Whether this finding is just or not, SociaUsm is a principle 
which stands or falls by a quaUtative conception of pro- 
gress. It is bound up with ideas of quahtative selection 
and competition, and with the endeavour to raise in the 
scale the whole machinery, the whole conception and pur- 
pose, of industrial activity, so as to give the fullest scope 
to the needs and means of human development. Increase 
of human power over circumstance, increase of humanizing 
wants, increase of powers of social enjoyment — these are 
the ends of state or municipal activity, whether it take 
the form of model conditions of employment, and model 
standards of consumption, or the provision of parks and 
libraries, and all such things as are means, not of mere, 
but of high existence. And in all these directions it would 
be true to say that the State or municipality operates 
through character and through ideas, and that, as the 
organized power of community, it helps the individual 
not to be less but more of an individual — more of a dis- 
tinctively human being. 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OP SOCIALISM 75 

The meaning of State activity (national and inter- 
national). — State activity, as thus conceived, is not the 
substitution of machinery for the mainspring of character, 
but a process of training and' adaptation, or it may be of 
restriction and elimination — the human analogues of 
" natural selection " in the physical world. In this way 
the State, while it endeavours to give the personal struggle 
for existence a distinctively human and qualitative form, 
gains a clearer consciousness of the meaning of its own 
struggle for existence in the social world as a whole. And 
just as it raises the plane of competition within its own 
social group, so it raises it in relation to other groups in 
the wider social organism. The study of great social ex- 
periments in Germany, the comparison of " experiences " 
at International Congresses, and other movements, suggest 
that there may be a more valuable kind of rivalry between 
nations than that of mere power, mere trade, or mere 
territory — a rivalry of social type and efficiency, within 
the limits of the specific part each is most fitted to dis- 
charge in the whole. The law of national self-preservation 
upon such a view passes from a non-moral to a moral stage, 
for it is not a mere and exclusive, but a specific and inclu- 
sive " self." Anyhow, one effect of Collectivism would be 
to increase the self-consciousness of a State as organized 
for the attainment of a common good and a certain kind 
of social existence ; and this consciousness is, from the 
Socialist's point of view, an increasingly determinate factor 
in social evolution, just as it is the worst effect of com- 
petitive industry that the idea of the State and the con- 
ception of a social ideal either disappears or becomes 
vulgarized and materiahzed. 

The distinction between "State" and "Society."— 

It is worth while to dwell for a moment upon a distinction 
which is often placed to the credit of modern, as distin- 
guished from Greek, political philosophy — the distinction 
between " Society " and " the State." When the poUtical 
community is regarded as " Society " it is looked at as a 
number of individuals or classes, or professions — as an 
aggregate -of units. When we speak of the " State," we 



76 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

understand a single personality, as it were, representing 
all these interests and endowed with force which it can 
exercise against any one of them. In other words, " the 
State " cannot be reduced to " Society " or to " Govern- 
ment," which is only one of its functions, but is Society 
organized and having force. This distinction in one way 
imjplies an advance : we can and do leave more than the 
Greeks to social influence, as distinguished from the 
action of the State, because the foundation of social 
morality is stronger and deeper, and because we lay more 
stress on individual freedom and the value of the individual. 
But in another way it impUes a loss, and is apt to degenerate 
into the idea that the State has no moral function, and 
that the individual possesses separate rights which only 
belong to him as a member of a community. To vulgar 
poUtical Economy, for instance, as to the Liberty and 
Property Defence League, " the State " simply means 
Society ; and there has been a tendency on the part of 
economists, who start with the commercial point of view 
to push to the extreme the view that the best iresult will 
come from the free interaction of conflicting interests, to 
take this view as final and make it a " law." Modem 
thought and modem practice are reverting to the position 
of Aristotle, that the State ought to put before itself " the 
good of the whole," by interfering with the " natural " 
course of economic events in favour of collective ends. 
And it is Democracy that has made Collectivism possible : 
the State is not some mysterious entity outside individuals, 
but simply represents the individuals organized for a 
common purpose, whether in parochial or national assembly. 
When, therefore, German Social-Democracy avows its aim 
to be the substitution of " Society " for the " State," this 
is simply a sign of arrested poHtical and social develop- 
ment : the State is not co-extensive with the self-governing 
community, but represents oligarchic and centraUzed 
bureaucracy. To depreciate the stress which CoUectivists 
lay upon " organization " is reaUy to depreciate the value 
of the moral atmosphere any particular manifestation of 
Collectivism may generate in famiharizing the members of 
the community with the idea of the social reference and 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 77 

destiny of industry, and of the State as the expression of 
the nation's will and conscience. 

General view of. Socialism and its justification. — 

Whatever else, then,|Socialism may be, it certainly implies 
organized action for a social purpose, and this purpose may 
always be reduced to the conception of a certain standard 
of Ufe other than mere animal existence. 

I am aware that this representation of Socialism, as 
concerned with the maintenance of natural selection under 
rational human conditions, does not cover all the visible 
phenomena of SociaUsm. But the philosophic student is 
justified in limiting his view to the conception of Socialism 
as a reasoned idea of social progress ; and it is its short- 
comings in this respect that the " moral reformer " selects 
for condemnation. His criticism may, perhaps, be roughly 
indicated as follows : Sociahsm, it is suggested, aims at 
the substitution of machinery for character, in the sense 
that it fails to recognize that the individual is, above all 
things, a character and a wiU, and that society, as a whole, 
is a structure in which will and character " are the blocks 
with which we build " ; it attaches, therefore, undue, if not 
exclusive, importance to material conditions and organiza- 
tion ; and, further, it is fatal to the conditions of the for- 
mation of character, these conditions being private pro- 
perty and free competition. In all these points we may 
discover a confusion between the appearance and the 
reaUty of Socialism. 

Socialism and Machinery.— No doubt at first sight it 
seems to be the common idea of all Socialists that, by 
reconstructing the machinery of the actual material 
organization of life, certain evils incidental to human life, 
of which that organization is regarded as the stronghold, 
can be greatly mitigated, if not wholly removed. The 
theory of modern Socialism gives no countenance to this 
conception of the matter. It suggests neither Utopias 
nor revolutions in human nature or modem business ; it 
does suggest a method of business which makes rather 
larger demands upon human nature, but which, at the 



78 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

same time, and for the same reason, is " better " business. 
Even if that were not so, it is clear that Collectivism is, 
as I have said, not machinery, but machinery with a pur- 
pose ; what it is concerned with is the machinery appro- 
priate to a certain spirit "^and conception of industry. It 
implies, therefore, emphatically ideas, and can only operate 
through " win and character." If, for instance, the 
machinery of pubUc industry is not directed to keeping 
this idea before its employees from the highest to the 
lowest, then they stand in just as much a material and 
mechanical relation to their work as the employee of a 
private person or company ; and, on the other hand, in 
proportion as the employee, through want of will or charac- 
ter or intelligence, fails to enter into that social purpose, 
his work would be as inferior in itself and in its relation 
to his character as it might be under any individualistic 
administration. As a practical corollary, the machinery 
of public industry must be organized in such a way that 
the workman can feel its interest and purpose as his in- 
terest and purpose. The mere substitution of pubUc for 
private administration is the shadow and not the substance. 
The forces required to work CoUectivist machinery are 
nothing if not moral ; and so we also hear the complaint 
that Socialists are too ideal, that they make too great a 
demand upon human nature and upon the social wiU and 
imagination. Of the two complaints, this is certainly the 
more pertinent. A conception, however, which is liable to 
be dismissed, now as mere mechanism, now as mere moral- 
ity, may possibly be working towards a higher synthesis. 
May it not be the truth that Socialism is emphatically a 
moral idea which must have the machinery fitted to main- 
tain and exercise such an idea — for a moral idea which is 
not a working idea is not moral at all — and this machinery 
is, formally speaking, the pubhc control and administration 
of industry. Every advance in ethics must be secured by 
a step taken in pohtics or economics. Socialism imphes 
both a superior moral idea and a superior method of busi- 
ness, and neither could work without the other. The 
superiority of the moral idea can only show itself by its 
works, by its business capacity, so to speak ; and the 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 79 

superiority of a method of business lies in what it can do 
for and with human nature. It follows, therefore, that 
just as Democracy is the most difficult form of government, 
Socialism is the most difficult form of industry, because, 
like Democracy, it requires the operation of ideas ; and 
the test of the perfection of Socialist machinery is just its 
capacity to give to the routine industries of the community 
that spirit and temper which are the note of the freest and 
highest work. Apart from this atmosphere of interest 
and purpose, the State and municipality are distinctly 
inferior as employers of labour, and the history of the co- 
operative movement itself provides a series of object lessons 
in the divorce of machinery from ideas. In its complete 
form, as the organization of production by the consumers, 
SociaUsm presupposes a responsiveness in producer and 
consumer, and Trades Unions of producers would be as 
much a part of SociaUst as of individualistic organization, 
as witness the National Union of Elementary Teachers. 
On the other hand, if it has sufficient ground-work in 
moral and intellectual conditions, then the material or- 
ganization itself helps to create the character it presupposes, 
and will be educative, in proportion as the employee of 
the community feels his social recognition in a raised 
standard of Hfe aU round — shorter hours, dignity and 
continuity of status, direct responsibihty. It cannot be 
said that Sociahsts are insensible to the amount of educa- 
tion — in ideas and character — that is required before any 
sensible advance can be made in the direction of co-opera- 
tive industry. On the other hand they do not beheve 
that grapes can grow upon thorns : they beheve that things 
make their own morahty. The idea of industry is what 
habits and institutions make it : it is impossible to put 
the social idea into institutions which make for the arti- 
ficial preservation and encouragement of an antagonistic 
idea — the plutocratic ideal ; and it is impossible to get 
it out of them. It is not enough to modify the bias of 
the individuahstic organization of society : that organiza- 
tion itself makes the whole idea of the organization 
of society on the basis of pubhc service or labour " the 
baseless fabric of a vision." The moralist demands, and 



&» SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

rightly (in theory) demands, that the working-man should 
realize tiiat he exists only on the terms of recognizing and 
discharging a definite social function. But what is there 
in the economic arrangements under which he finds him- 
self, to suggest such an idea — the idea on which Sociahsm 
rests — either to the propertied or to the propertyless man ? 
How is a man who depends for his employment upon a. 
mechanism he can in no wise control or count upon, and 
upon the abiUty of a particular employer to maintain'him- 
self against rivals, enabled to reaUze a definite position 
in the social structure ? What he does feel, for the most 
part, is that he is dependent on a system in which the 
element of chance is incalculable, and it is just this feeling 
which makes for a materialistic and hand-to-mouth con- 
ception of Ufe. Or what is there in the economic structure 
of society which suggests to the employer or the capitalist 
that their raison d'Stre is not so much to make a fortune as 
to fulfil a function ? In what way, in a word, does the 
individuahstic organization of industry make for the ex-| 
tension of the sense of duty which a man owes to society 
at large ? Moral ideas must have at least a basis in the 
concrete relations of Hfe. In the same way, we are told,[ 
and rightly told, that the value of property hes in its 
relation to the needs of personality. But how can a man 
who cannot count on more than ten shillings a week, or at 
any rate the man who depends upon casual emplo37ment 
or speculative trades, regard property as " the unity of his 
material life " ? "A man must know what he can count 
on and judge what to do with," — this is stated to be a 
requirement of morality (as it certainly is of Socialism).) 
But how is this condition realized under a system which not 
only lends itself to the most violent contrasts between care- 
less ease and careworn want, between lavish indulgence 
and narrow penury, but makes it the (apparent) interest 
of the employing classes that the employed shall not have 
property — a situation which Trade Unions were meant to 
meet. Moral ideas are, after all, relevant to a particular 
working organization of hfe. The " moral Socialist ", 
seems to require a Socialist ethics of property and employ- 
ment from an economic system which is worked upon an 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 8i 

individualistic conceptipn of property and employment. 
But the moralist who insists on the fulfilment by society 
of ideas for which its actual institutions and everyday life 
give no warrant seems to suggest that ethics are not rela- 
tive, that moral conceptions are not ideas of Ufe, but ideas 
about Hfe. To this abstract moral idealism and trans- 
cendentalism, Sociahsm, at any rate, furnishes a needful 
corrective. Is there anything, the SociaUst asks, in men's 
ordinary industrial Ufe which suggests the " lofty and 
ennobling " ideas they are to have about it ? And I con- 
ceive that the SociaUst who criticizes the economic arrange- 
ments of society from the standpoint of these ideas is the 
more helpful moralist of the two. He has done well if he 
has simply caUed attention to the antinomy ; and, in a 
sense, that is the only remedy, for, unless it is felt and 
recognized, there is nothing from which anything better 
can grow up. If institutions depend on character, cha- 
racter depends on institutions : it is upon their necessary 
interaction that the SociaUst insists. The greatness of 
Ruskin as a moraUst lies in his relevance, and in his recog- 
nition of the inseparabiUty of the moral and the material, 
of ethics and economics. But the practical man calls 
him a moral rhetorician and an insane economist. 

" Moral " and " Material " reform.— Apart from the 
general value of economic organization or of the considera- 
tion of it, the moral Socialist certainly tends (in theory) 
to minimize, if not to discount, the influence of material 
conditions on the betterment of Ufe. The great thing, we 
are told, is to " moralize " the employer, or " moralize " 
the workman. The only radical cure for the sanitary 
atrocities of the Factory system Ues, it is said, in a wider 
interpretation of their duty by the employers. Why is it, 
one may ask, that a system against which it is considered 
superficial, or indeed immoral, to " agitate," lends itself 
to this appeal from the employer's sense of interest to 
the employer's sense of duty ? The SociaUst suggests a 
system of industry in which self-interest does not require 
to be checked. And is it quite reasonable or consistent 
to complain, on the one hand, that SociaUsra does not pro- 



S2 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

vide the economic motive of private profit, and, on the 
other hand, to look for the improvement of the conditions 
of the labourer to the morahzation or socialization of the 
motives of the employer ? The evils which the moral 
SociaUst admits are just those for which a radical cure can 
only be found in the popular control of industry. Or are 
we to say that " the morality of the working classes " 
depends not upon ''' circumstances," but upon some mys- 
terious gift of grace or redemption ? The intimate con- 
nection between " circumstances " and drinking, the de- 
grading effect of material uncertainty (which the doctrinaire 
moralist seems to regard as an unmixed moral benefit — 
for the working classes), are, at any rate, as normal pheno- 
mena as the powerlessness of a " degenerate " to cope with 
such conditions at aU. A good deal more investigation 
is surely needed of the conditions under which " character 
and ideas " operate before we can so easily assume their 
spontaneous generation and their indefinite possibihties. 
Universalize the principle, and it is doubtless good for all 
persons that they should not be above the possibihty of 
falling into distress by lack of wisdom and exertion ; com- 
petition is in this sense a sovereign condition of hfe, and 
the Sociahst regrets that more room is not made for its 
beneficent operation in the " moral development " of our 
^' splendid paupers." There seems to be just a tendency 
on the part of the Charity Organization Society to treat 
the working classes as if they had pecuUar opportunities 
for independent hfe, just because their circumstances are 
so difficult ; the eye of the moral disciplinarian should 
surely also be turned upon the many people who are as 
much pensioners of society as if they were maintained in 
an almshouse. The poor man's poverty (it would seem) 
is his moral opportunity. But this kind of beatitude for 
the poor would have more point if it were always their 
own lack of wisdom and exertion which occasions their 
" falling into distress." It must be admitted that the 
existence of an unemployed rich is as great a source of 
danger and deterioration to society as that of an unem- 
ployed poor, and to a great extent the one is an aggravating 
cause of the other. Much of the casual employment of the 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 83 

unemployed classes directly ministers to the unproductive 
and exclusive consumption of the rich ; and one great 
difficulty in the way of the organization of production on 
the basis of rational and persistent wants, and the provision 
of a true industrial basis to the hfe of the worker, hes in 
the irregular, capricious, and characterless expenditure 
of superfluous incomes. 

Insufificiency of the Charity Organization Society. 

— ^AU that our " Poor Law Reformers" have to say about 
the poUcy of " reUef works," " shelters," and relaxation of 
the Poor Law is undeniable ; but the corollary that in " re- 
fraining from action " we are helping on a better time 
seems hardly adequate, however graphically it can be 
illustrated from the history of unwise philanthropy. So 
long as the Charity Organization Society contents itself 
with the demonstration that devices of this kind only drive 
the evil further in, it is reaUy helpful ; but in refusing to 
look for any source of the evils except foolish benevolence 
on the one side and reckless improvidence on the other, 
it seems to be unduly simpUfying the conditions of the 
problem. It is, at any rate, scarcely justified in depre- 
cating the inquiry as to whether the absence of any rational 
organization of industry may not be a part of the situation. 
Thinkers of this school are so much concerned for the 
moral independence of the worker that his actual economic 
dependence hardly enters into their consideration. The 
circumstances beyond the control of great masses of 
workers engaged in machine industries are much larger 
than those that their own action goes to make up, and here 
again Collectivism endeavours to bring these circumstances 
much more within their control. Lack of employment 
means, we are told, lack of character ; but where, after all, 
does character come from ? The contention of Socialists 
is that the absence of any permanent organization of 
industry, by setting a premium upon partial and discon- 
tinuous emplo5mient, is itself a contributory cause of 
shiftless character ; and where the character is hopeless, 
the best way of dealing with it is such an organization as 
would really sift out and eliminate the industrial resi- 



84 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

duum. All permanent organization means the withdrawal 
of partial and inadequate employment from a certain 
class. 

Surely in this case system and character act and react : 
discourage intermittent employment, and you save the 
" marginal " cases from social wreckage ; while it becomes 
possible to deal with the industrial residuum in some 
restorative or restrictive way. But is not this the point of 
Collectivism ? The Fabian Society has repudiated the 
false economics of " rehef works " with quite as much 
energy as the Charity Organization Society. But the real 
objection to rehef works, as also to " Old Age Pensions," 
is that they have no logical connection with the system 
they are designed to palliate. " Continuity of employ- 
ment " and " superannuation pensions " woulii be a logical 
part of a Socialist state ; but the idea of " the State " as 
a reUef society to the employees of private industry can 
only be satisfactory to the employer, whose irresponsibility 
it would effectually sanction. Under a system of indi- 
vidualistic industry, " State rehef " and " State pensions " 
can only mean an allowance in aid of reckless speculation 
and low wages ; and these devices only serve to distract 
reform from the true hne of dehverance — the best possible 
organization of industry and the improvement of the con- 
ditions of labour. It is not the Socialist who contemplates 
the " ransom " of the capitahstic system by rehef work 
and old age pensions. On the other hand, pensions — and 
even carefully guarded and exceptional relief schemes — 
might be regarded as part of a transitional pohcy. The 
Sociahst who advocates Old Age Pensions is at the same 
time advocating a different conception and consequent 
method of industry, and not simply trying to save the 
credit of a discredited system. I do not think that even 
the most impatient Sociahst has ever suggested that out- 
door relief in any shape was SociaUsm ; while the scientific 
Sociahst has never regarded so-caUed wholesale " Socialistic 
remedies " of this kind as other than the herring across 
the track. ) Socialism means the organization not of charity, 
nor of rehef, but of industry, and in such a way that the 
problem of finding work which is not apparently wanted, 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 85 

and of devising pensions for no apparent service, would 
not be " normal." 

Socialism and natural selection. — ^The real danger ot 
Collectivism, indeed, is not that it would take the form of 
the charity that fosters a degraded class, but that it would 
be as ruthless as Plato in the direction of " social surgery." 
It may take a hard and narrow view of the " industrial 
organism " and the conditions of its efficiency. For the 
progress of civilization gives a social value to other quali- 
ties, other kinds of efficiency, than merely industrial or 
economic capacity. " Invalidism " may be said to develop 
valuable states of mind, and to strengthen the conception 
of human sympathy and solidarity. It is possible to 
apply the conception of an industrial organism in two ways : 
the State is an organism, and therefore it should get rid 
of its weak ; the State is an organism, and therefore it 
should carry its weak with it. Perhaps it might be said 
that the modern problem is not so much to get the weak 
out of the way, as to help them to be useful. There is no 
reason in the process of natural selection as such, why 
every member of society, provided he be not criminal, 
should not be preserved and helped to Mve as effectively 
as possible. But this would depend upon the possibihty 
of such a readjustment of the economic system that would 
enable all members to maintain an efficient existence under 
it, and, conversely, upon the condition that each person 
should do the work for which he is best fitted. " Weak- 
ness " and " unfitness " are, after aU, relative ; and in any 
more systematic organization of society what is now a 
man's weakness might become his strength. One advan- 
tage of the organization of industry would be the increased 
possibihty of " grading " work, as also of estimating desert. 
The problem is no other than that of finding a distribution 
of work which would aUow the weak to render a service 
proportioned to their abihty in the same ratio as the service 
is required of the strong. The present system makes too 
little use of the weak and too much of the strong ; instead 
of helping the growth of all after their kind, it fosters an 
overgrowth of an exclusive and imperfect kind. And, 



86 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

lastly, if it be said that any form of Socialism would b& 
immoral if it denied the necessity for individual responsi-. 
bihty, it may also be urged that the compulsory elevation 
by municipal and State activity of the most degraded 
classes is a necessary preliminary to their further elevation 
by individual effort and voluntary association. But none 
of these considerations seem germane to private competi- 
tive enterprise, which can hardly afford to " treat life as 
a whole." From all these points of view, therefore, I 
venture to think that the question of morality is largely 
a question of machinery, and that the consideration of 
morahty apart from macliinery reduces ethics to the level 
of a merely " formal " science. 

Socialism and property. — Socialism recognizes the 
value of property by demanding its wider distribution. The 
social situation is, upon its showing (rightly or wrongly), 
largely created by the divorce of the worker from property 
and the means of production, which means that the 
arrangement and disposition of his life is outside his con- 
trol. Private property may be said to have an ethical 
value and significance so far as it is at once a sign and ex- 
pression of individual worth, and gives to individual life 
some sort of unity and continuity. It follows that wages 
and salaries, on which society is largely, and under Collec- 
tivism would be whoUy based, fulfil the principle of private 
property so far as they are in some degree permanent arid 
calculable ; otherwise, there is a discontinuity in the life 
of the individual ; he cannot look before and after, cannot 
organize his life as a whole. Socialists not only accept 
the " idea " of individual property, but demand some 
opportunity for its reaUzation. One point of the pubhc 
organization of industry is that it would admit of more 
permanency, stabihty, and continuity in the Ufe of the 
worker than is provided by the precariousness of modern 
competition. His life, it is contended, is much more ex- 
posed than it need be to the worst of material evils — 
uncertainty. The " Trust " organization of industry, . as 
also the organization of dock labour, are in this respect 
on the hne of Socialist advance ; and it is well known.that 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 87 

the Civil Service attracts because it not only secures the 
livelihood of the employed, but leaves him time for volun- 
teer work in pursuit of his interests and duties, private 
and public. Or, again, we are told that the social need 
is to make the possession of property more responsive to 
the character and capacity of the owner. Could the 
endeavour of Sociahsm be better expressed ? Socialism 
does not, like certain forms of Communism, rest upon 
the idea that no man should have anything of his own ; 
it is concerned with such an organization of industry 
as shall enable a man to acquire property in proportion 
to his character and capacity, but will cease to make the 
mere accumulation of private property a motive force of 
industry. Just to the extent that property serves the 
needs of individuality, Socialism would encourage its 
acquisition : the idea of hand-to-mouth existence or 
" dependence," the ideal of the slave or the child, is 
probably much more encouraged by the fluctuations of 
competitive industry than by the routine but regular and 
calculable vocation of the public servant. 

It may be further considered that it is the object of 
Collectivism not merely to give a true industrial and 
calculable basis to the life of the worker, but to give to the 
possession of property character and propriety. There is 
a justifiable pleasure in surrounding oneself with things 
which really express and respond to one's own character 
and choice of interest, and in the feeling that they are 
one's own in a peculiar and intimate sense. But the num- 
ber of books, pictures, and the Uke, which one " desires 
for one's own," is comparatively small, and would be 
much smaller if one had within reach a museum, a library, 
and a picture gaUery. The property that is revolting is 
that which is expressive, not of character, but of money ; 
the house, for instance, of "a successful man " made 
beautiful " by contract." Emerson's exhortation to put 
our private pictures into pubUc galleries is perhaps extreme, 
and not altogether practical or reasonable. But the public 
provision of libraries and galleries, and of things that can 
be best enjoyed in common, not only enlarges the back- 
ground of the citizen's hfe and adds to his possessions, 



SS SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

but suggests a reasonable limit to the accumulation of 
property ; as it would most certainly give a social direc- 
tion to art, when it could minister to the needs of a nation 
rather than the ostentation of the few. And the same 
may be said of public parks, means of transit, and the hke 
— all in the direction of levelling those inequalities of 
property which serve no social purpose. Whether, then, 
property be regarded as a " means of self-expression," or 
as " materials for enjoyment," the CoHectivist ideal may 
be said to he in the direction, not of denying, but of affirm- 
ing and satisfying the need ; and the SociaUsts criticize 
the distribution of property under individualistic institu- 
tions just from the point of view of its failure to satisfy 
a need of human nature. Mr. Bosanquet (in Some Aspects 
of the Social Problem), for instance, really expresses the 
Socialist's position when he says : " The real cause of 
complaint to-day, I take it, is not the presence, but the 
absence of property, together with the suggestion that its 
presence may be the cause of its absence." He points 
out, moreover, that the principle of unearned private 
property and the principle of Communism really meet in 
the common rejection of the idea of earning, of some quasi- 
competitive relation of salary to value or energy of service 
— ^in fact, of the organization of Society upon a basis of 
labour which is the ideal of Sociahsm. Similarly he puts 
himself at the point of view of the Socialist when he says : 
" The true principles of State interference with acquisition 
— and aUenation — ^would refer to their tendency, if any, 
to prevent acquisition of property on the part of other 
members of society," a principle which omits nothing in 
CoUectivist requirements, and opens up a series of far- 
reaching considerations. * 

Socialism and competition. — I have already endea- 
voured to show that Socialism is a method of social selection 
according to social worth (in the widest sense) : that it 
desires to extend the possibiUties of usefulness to as many 
as possible, and would measure reward by the efficiency 
of socially valuable work. The differences in reward 
would, however, be of less account in proportion as social 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 89 

consideration and recognition, and the collective privileges 
and opportunities of civilization, are extended to any kind 
of woi:ker, and as the motives to personal accumulation 
are reduced within social Hmits. Indeed, it is a question 
whether the conventional idea of reward is relevant to the 
system of industry contemplated by the Socialist, a system 
under which the freest industrial motive — the motive of 
work for work's and enjojmient's sake, the stimulus of self- 
expression — could be extended from the highest to the 
humblest industry. The incompatibility of pure indus- 
trial motive with our modern industrial system is, indeed, 
as Ruskin and Morris and Wagner have witnessed, its 
profoundest condemnation. 

The benefits of commercial competition.— It is not 

to be denied that competitive private enterprise may develop 
character and discharge social services. But the character 
and the services are of a partial and inferior type : partial, 
because a few grow out of proportion to the rest, and 
therefore in a narrow and anti-social direction ; inferior, 
because the character of the economically strong is not 
of the highest type ; if it is of a type fittest to survive in 
a commercial and non-social world, it is not the fittest 
to survive in a moral and social order. And what can one 
say about commercial standards of production or con- 
sumption ? Are they as such directed to develop quality 
of life ? Matthew Arnold's description of an upper class 
materiaUzed, a middle class vulgarized, and a lower class 
brutalized, is a fairly accurate description of modern com- 
mercial types. 

Competition and population. — Not only is commercial 
competition inferior in form, but it is directly responsible 
for an increase in quantity over quality of population. 
The idea that unchecked competition makes for the natural 
selection of the fittest population is singularly optimistic. 
It is just that part of the population which has nothing to 
lose that is most reckless in propagating itself. The fear 
of falling below the standard of comfort at one end of the 
social scale, and the hopelessness of ever reaching it at 



90 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

the other, combine to increase the quantity of population 
at the cost of its quality. And what is a loss to society 
is a gain to the sweater ; he is directly interested in the 
lowering of the standard of hfe, and in the competition 
of cheap labour ; and the sweater is a normal product of 
commerci^ competition. Collectivism dehberately aims 
at the maintenance and elevation of the standard of hfe, 
and at such an organization of industry as would not 
enable one class of the community to be interested in the 
over-production of another. It treats the " population 
question " as a problem of quahty. 

Socialism and progress. — There are of course many 
other aspects of SociaUsm than its adequacy to the require- 
ments of a moral and social idea ; that is, of a principle of 
progressive social Hfe. It may be thought that SociaUsm is 
essentially a movement from below, a class movement; 
but it is characteristic of modem Sociahsm that its pro- 
tagonists, in this country at any rate, approach the problem 
from the scientific rather than the popular view ; they are 
middle-class theorists. And the future of the movement 
wiU depend upon the extent to which it will be recognized 
that Socialism is not simply a working-man's, or an unem- 
ployed, or a poor man's question. There are, indeed, 
signs of a distinct rupture between the Sociahsm of the 
street and the SociaUsm of the chair ; the last can afford 
to be patient, and to deprecate hasty and unscientific 
remedies. It may be that the two sides may drift farther 
and farther apart, and that scientific SociaUsm may come 
to enjoy the unpopularity of the Charity Organization 
Society. AU that I am, however, concerned to maintain 
is that there is a scientific SociaUsm which does attempt to 
treat Ufe as a whole, and has no less care for character- 
than the most rigorous ideaUst ; and I beUeve I am also 
right in thinking that this is the characteristic and dominant 
tjTpe of SociaUsm at the present day. It may not be its 
dominant idea in the future, but it is the idea that is 
wanted for the time, the idea that is relevant, and it is 
with relevant ideas that the social moraUst is concerned. 



THE MORAL ASPECTS OF SOCIALISM 91 

Other moral aspects: Socialism and religion. — 
There are, again, other moral aspects than those with which 
I have been concerned. I have said nothing as to the moral 
sentiment of Sociahsm, nothing as to the creation of a 
deeper sense of pubUc duty. I have taken for granted the 
sentiment, and confining myself to Sociahsm, as a moral 
idea, have tried to see how it works, or whether it is a 
working idea at all. The question of moral dynamics hes 
behind this, and the question of faith — of Sociahsm as a 
rehgion — stiU. further behind. Perhaps in an anxiety to 
divorce Socialism from sentimentahty,' we may appear to 
be divorcing it from sentiment. But th? sentiment of 
Sociahsm must rest on a high degree of intellectual force 
and imagination, if it is not to be altogether vague and 
void. There is no cheap way, or royal road, to the rehgion 
of humanity, though there may be many helps to it short 
of a reflective philosophy. But it would be idle to deny 
that Sociahsm involves a change which would be almost 
a revolution in the moral and religious attitude of the 
majority of mankind. We may agree with MiU that it is 
impossible to define with any sort of precision the coming 
modification of moral and rehgious ideas. We may further, 
however, agree that it will rest upon the idea of sohdarity, 
and that " there are two things which are hkely to lead 
men to invest this with the moral authority of a rehgion ; 
first, they will become more and more impressed by the 
awful fact that a piece of conduct to-day may prove a 
curse to men and women scores and even hundreds of 
years after the author is dead ; and second, they will more 
and more feel that they can only satisfy their sentiment of 
gratitude to seen or unseen benefactors, can only repay 
the untold benefits they have inherited, by diUgently main- 
taining the traditions of service," This, or something hke 
it, is the true Sociahst faith. 



IV. PUBLIC SERVICE reRSUS PRIVATE 

EXPENDITURE 

By sir OLIVER LODGE 

Originally given as an address to the Ancient Order of Fores- 
ters at their Annual Gathering in Birmingham Town 
Hall, on Simday, October gth, 1904. The Society is 
indebted to Sir Oliver Lodge for permission to print and 
issue this Address. 

" "pUBLIC WEALTH " means wealth belonging to a 
j7 Community or Corporate Body ; and the possessor 
of such wealth can utiUze and administer it as Corporate 
Expenditure. By " Corporate Expenditure " I mean not 
municipal' expenditure alone, nor trade union expenditure 
alone, nor benefit society expenditure alone, but something 
of all of them ; combined expenditure for corporate ends, 
as distinguished from private and individual expenditure, 
tf I wish to maintain that more good can be done and greater • 
value attained by the thoughtful and ordered expenditure 
of corporate money, than can be derived from even a lavish 
amount distributed by private hands for the supply of 
personal comfort and the maintenance of special privileges. 
It sounds hke a secular subject, but no subject is really 
secular, in the sense of being opposed to sacred, unless it is 
a subject intrinsically bad ; and if the truth be as I imagine 
myself now to conceive it, the subject I am endeavouring 
to bring forward has possible developments of the most 
genuinely sacred character. I shall not have time to 
develop this fully, but I can make a beginning. 

Careless spending.— First I would direct your attention 
to a fact and ask you to observe how little thought is 
expended by mankind in general on the spending of money, 



PUBLIC SERVICE v. PRIVATE EXPENDITURE 93 

and how much time and attention are devoted to the earn- 
ing of it. That may seen natural ; it is considered easy 
to spend and hard to earn. I am by no means sure that 
it is easy to spend wisely. Men who have much money to 
spend — ^and few of us are in that predicament — ^if they are 
conscientious and good men, feel the dif&culty seriously ; 
they reaUze that it is so easy to do harm, so difficult to 
know how to do real good. Charity may seem a safe and 
easy method of disbursing, and much of it at present, alas, 
is necessary, but few things are more dangerous : it is an 
easy salve to the conscience, but it by no means conduces 
to fulness and dignity of life. 

But ehminating men of large fortunes, let us attend to 
our own case. We, the ordinary citizens, how little time 
do we find to consider our manner of spending ; we mostly 
do it by deputy, all our time is occupied in earning. It 
may be said roughly that men earn the money and that 
their wives spend it : a fair division of labour. They 
spend it best : and if the man insistson retaining and spend- 
ing much of it, he is hable to spend it very far from wisely 
or well. 

Public u. Private Expenditure. — I will not labour the 
point ; we get something by private expenditure undoubt- 
edly : we get the necessaries of life, and we get some smaD 
personal luxuries in addition. We do not get either in the 
most economical fashion. Buying things by the ounce 
or by the pint is not the cheapest way of buying ; nor is 
a kitchen fire in every household the cheapest way of cook- 
ing, especially in the summer. Without going into details, 
and without exaggerating, we must all see that individual- 
ism results in some waste. If each man pays for the visits 
of his own doctor it is expensive. If each man provides 
his own convalescent home it is expensive. If each man 
goes on his own excursion or travels it is not so cheap as 
when several club together and run the journey on a joint 
purse. Private and solitary travel may be luxurious, but 
it is not cheap. A cab is dearer than an omnibus ; a 
private garden is far dearer in proportion than a public 
park. Of private expenditure altogether it may be said : 



94 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

some of it is necessary, much of it is luxurious, but none 
of it is economical. 

Corporate or combined expenditure achieves a greater 
result, not only for the whole, but actually for each indi- 
vidual. " Each for himself " is a poor motto ; the idea of 
" Each for all " is a far more powerful as well as a more 
stimulating doctrine than " Each for himself." Thus 
already you see our subject shows signs of losing its secular 
character and of approaching within hailing distance of 
the outposts of Christianity. 

The objects of thrift. — Very well, now go on to consider 
the subject of thrift — not personal spending, but personal 
saving. What is the saving for ? There are two chief 
objects : — 

\i) To provide for sickness, for old age, and for those 
who are dependent upon us, and whom we should other- 
wise leave helpless when we go. This is clearly the chief 
and especially forcible motive for saving : it is the main- 
spring and original motive-power of this and aU other 
benefit societies. But there is also another not at aUl 
unworthy motive, though it is one less generally recognized 
or admitted, and to this I wish incidentally to direct 
attention. 

The second great motive for thrift and wise accumula- 
tion is — 

(2) To increase our own power and influence and effec- 
tive momentum in the world. 

The power of wealth. — The man of wealth is recognized 
as a force in the world, sometimes indeed a force for evil', , 
sometimes for good, but undeniably and always a power. 
People often complain of this and abuse the instinct 
which recognizes wealth as being such a power. But it is 
inevitable. It does not indeed follow that great wealth 
need be concentrated in a few hands, or that one single 
individual shall have the disposal of it : it is an accidental 
and, as I think, an unfortunate temporary arrangement 
of society which brings about that result ; but, whether 
in many hands or in few, wealth is bound to be a power : it 



PUBLIC SERVICE 0. PRIVATE EXPENDITURE 9S 

is no use abusing what is inevitable, we must study and 
learn how to utilize the forces of nature. Wealth is one 
of those forces. 

Why is it so powerful ? Because it enables its owner 
to carry out his plans, to execute his purposes, to achieve 
his ends. He has not to go cap in hand to somebody 
and ask permission ; he can do the thing himself. He 
cannot do everything indeed, his power is Hmited, but 
he can do much. So also the members of a wealthy cor- 
porate body, if they want to do something, if they want 
to meet elsewhere than in a public-house, for instance, 
encounter no difficulty, they can have a hall of their own, 
or they can hire one. Wealth is accumulated savings. 
Considered as power, it does not matter whether the wealth 
is in many hands or in few. The owners of it are important 
people ; and if they mean to do good the material acces- 
sories are at their command. A rich corporation, like 
a rich man, has great power. Suppose he wants to bring 
out an invention, his own or some one else's, he has the 
means. Suppose he wants to build a laboratory or endow 
a university, he can do it. Suppose he wants to plant 
waste land with forest trees, who will stop him ? But he 
cannot do everything. A genius has powers greater than 
his. A rich man's power is great, but it is limited ; for 
suppose he wants to compose an oratorio, to paint a picture, 
to make a scientific discovery, and has not the ability ; his 
wealth is impotent, he cannot do it. No, his power is 
strictly limited, but it is not so Umited as that of the 
poor man. 

The weakness of poverty. — We are poor men, and some 
of us want to renovate the Black Country and cover up 
its slag heaps with vegetation and with forests — a beautiful 
and sane ideal — but it is a difificult task. I do not own 
a square foot of soil, nor do most of you. What right have 
we to go to plant trees on some one else's land ? We should 
be trespassers ; and, at a whim of the owner, they might 
be rooted up. The owners of the soil, however, may be 
willing for the reafforestation of the Black Country, they 
may give us assistance, they may enable us to carry out 



96 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

the scheme. I sincerely hope they will, but we must go 
and ask them. Without the wealth we are powerless. 
We see so many things that might be done if we had the 
means : for instance, we helplessly lament the existence 
of slums, we see numerous wajre in which to improve 
cities, we would like to suppress smoke and show how the 
air could be kept pure for the multitudes herded in cities 
to brieathe and enjoy ; but we cannot do it, we are not 
rich enough. Moreover, if we did, what would happen, 
at least at first ? Rents would rise, and the improved 
property would become too dear for the present inhabitants 
to hve in. Clear and purify the air of towns, and they 
would at once, with their good drainage and fine sanitary 
conditions, become the best and healthfuHest places to 
live in. Now they are too dirty, then they would be too 
dear. 

But if the land near all large towns belonged to the 
community, if we had corporate ownership of land, what 
would we not do ! Then the improvements would be 
both possible and profitable, and the community who made 
them would reap the benefit. 

Some day : some day an approach to this condition of 
things is bound to come. It feels to me almost like part 
of the meaning of that great prayer, " Thy kingdom come" ; 
and if so we are again not far away from the atmosphere of 
Christianity. 

Public wealth and public debts. — For accumulation 
of wealth to be reaUy beneficial it should contribute to 
the common weal, it should conduce to well-being, and so 
be worthy of the name of weal-th or wealth. 

The only way probably you and I can ever become 
wealthy is by becoming corporately wealthy, by clubbing 
our savings and becoming an influence and a power in the 
land. 

Already I see, by your Report, that this organization or 
corporate body owns more than seven millions : not seven 
millions free to be dealt with as you like, it is all ear-marked 
to good and beneficent objects, and all needed for the 
achievement of those objects ; but still it is a substantial 



PUBLIC SERVICE v. PRIVATE EXPENDITURE 97 

sum, and it can increase. Roll it up to seventy millions, 
apply it to other objects than sickness and death, and you 
will become capitalists, able to execute your behests, an 
influence and a power in the world. 

Would this be a good thing ? Ah, that is a large ques- 
tion. There are always dangers in great capital, it is a 
serious responsibihty ; and if badly and domineeringly 
used it may become a fearful evil. In imwise and unscrupu- 
lous hands, if they are ignorant and foolish, it is far from 
safe. But let it come gradually, let it be owned by man- 
kind or by the community at large, and I for one would 
trust them — we are bound to trust mankind — ^would trust 
them at first to endeavour to make a good use of it, and 
ultimately to succeed in so doing. 

I beUeve in pubUc capital and public expenditure, so it 
be clean and honest and well managed ; everything de- 
pends upon that ; but in this fortunate city that is already 
accomplished. What is known as a public debt is really 
a public investment, and anything not spent in the waste 
of war should have pubUc works, or elevated humanity, 
or other good results, to show for it. Then it at once be- 
comes capital, and is no more appropriately called debt ; 
it has not been spent, but invested. " Funds " is a better 
name for it. 

The economy of rising rates. — ^That is why I beUeve in 
rates — not altogether in the Poor Rate, for I am unable to 
feel that the Poor Law is on a satisfactory basis, though it 
is administered with the best intentions by the guardians : 
the system is, as I think, in some respects mistaken, but 
I win not go into that now ; I only say parenthetically 
that the Poor Rate I do not welcome — ^but rates for pubhc 
works, education rates, rates for municipal and corporate 
services generally, rates for museums and Hbraries and 
recreation grounds and parks and rational amusements, 
all these I would welcome and wish to grow. 

We should not try to economize in these things, we 
should put our heads together so as to spend the pubUc 
money wisely and well, and then, we should spend it. 
Private thrift, public expenditure ; that is the way to 
raise a town or a nation in the standard of civilization. 



98 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

The spendings of an individual, what are they ? They 
are gone in his individual comfort and luxury The 
spendings of a community are capital : they result in 
public works, in' better housing, in good roads, in thorough 
lighting ; they open up the country, they develop its 
resources, they educate the citizens, tiiey advance aU the 
amenities of existence, in an economical because corporate 
or co-operative manner. 

Good management is required ; and that is why you 
take pains to send good men to the City Council to look 
after your interests : your interests, not in screwing and 
economizing, but in spending wisely and honestly and well, 
getting the most they can for your money, and looking out 
for improvements and for good schemes worthy of en- 
couragement. And when they do this well, be ready to 
trust them- with more ; see that not only the municipal 
but the national purse also is properly supphed. Our 
national Government is for aU good purposes miserably 
poor. I fear there is sad waste somewhere, and that before 
the taxes can be judiciously raised the sources of the waste 
must be discovered and checked. I trust that aheady 
this labour is being put in hand. You have fine pubhc 
servants who are trjdng to do their best with an ancient 
and very cumbrous and over-centralized machine ; much 
revenue has to be spent in various unprofitable ways, 
wars and other, but in every good and noble direction of 
expenditure the country is miserably poor. Where it is 
economical it should be lavish ; and where it is lavish it 
should be economical ; that is an exaggeration, but there 
is a kind of truth underlying it. Our national economy 
in higher education is having disastrous results, it is a real 
danger to the nation. While other nations are investing 
millions of public money on higher education and research 
we prefer to keep the money in our pockets in order to 
spend it privately ; and the result is that while the State 
is poor ttie individual is rich. Individuals are over rich 
in this country ; money breeds money on our present 
system with very httle work, and it is apt to roll itself up 
into portentous and top-heavy fortunes. The result is, 
I fear, a state of things that some people say is becoming 



PUBLIC SERVICE v. PRIVATE EXPENDITURE 99 

a scandal. I do not know. But however that may be, 
I should like to see this wealth owned by communities ; 
I should hke to see it in corporate hands and expended for 
the general good. 

Unearned incomes. — Do not think that the original 
making of a fortune is easy. Most fortunes begin by thrift 
and enterprise ; it is not the making of a fortune that is 
easy, it is the transferring and the inheriting of it that are 
so fatally easy and so dangerous. If the maker of the 
fortune himself had the disbursing of it, there would be 
but little harm done, and there might be much good. No 
fortune can be honestly made without strenuous industry 
and character. But a fortune can be inherited, can be 
inherited, I say, though I hope it seldom is, by a personifi- 
cation of laziness and foUy and vice. 

That, however, is not my point. My point is that self- 
denial is the beginning of capital and the essence of thrift 
— ^present self-denial for future good. This self-denial 
for future good you of this and kindred societies are already 
exercising in a small way, but it is possible and indeed 
hkely that it will come to be exercised in a larger way, 
and so gradually a considerable fraction of the property 
of the world may ultimately pass into your hands. Wake 
up to this possibiHty, and do not abuse capital or capitaUsts, 
for some day you wiU be capitalists yourselves. Then it 
will strain your energies to know what to do with it, and 
how to use it for the best and highest good of humanity — 
the ascertainment of which is a noble aspect of human 
endeavour. 

I do not expect agreement in all that I have to say, nor 
do I speak with authority ; I am anxious to admit that I 
may be mistaken ; I only ask you to consider and weigh 
my message, the more so if you disagree ; as I know many 
wiU, especially in what follows : — 

The cheapness of high salaries.— The tendency of 
public bodies is to economize in salaries. People loo^ 
askance at highly-paid public servants, whereas it is just 
from those that you do get something for your money. 



100 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

You don't get much service as a rule from dividend share- 
holders, but you do as a rule from salaried officers. That 
is the danger of municipalities and other democratic cor- 
porations : they will not realize with sufficient clearness, 
that the manager and administrator is worthy of large 
remuneration, that to get the best man you must pay him 
wel, and that to put up with a second-rate article when 
you can get the best is but a poor poUcy, and in the long 
run bad economy. Cheap men are seldom any good. In 
a large concern they may waste more than tiieir annual 
salary in a week. Some people want to pay aU men alike. 
It wall not work. It is a subject fuU of controversy, I 
know, and I do not wish to dogmatize, but so far as I can 
see, and I have no personal interest in the matter, I say 
that the principle of inequahty of payment must be recog- 
nized — that it is a necessary consequence of inequality of 
abiUty. 

Some organizations seem to think, too, that the avail- 
able work of the world is limited, and that you must each 
be careful not to do too much of it lest work become scarce. 
The truth is that the work potentially required by man- 
kind is essentially unhmited ; and if we could only get 
better social conditions there would be work and oppor- 
tunity and scope for all, each according to his grade and 
power and ability. 

Stand shoulder to shoulder and help each other, and 
form a banded community for mutual help, by aU means ; 
let all co-operate together, and let not one human being 
be idle except the sick and insane ; but allow for different 
kinds of work, and put the false glamour of the idea of 
artificial equality out of your minds. In any organization, 
as in any human body, there must be head and there must 
be hands, there must be trunk and Hmbs : the good of 
the whole is secured by each doing his apportioned task 
and obtaining his appropriate nourishment : not every 
part alike, though each sufficient for his need : each 
brought up to his maximum efficiency. 

And what is true of property is true of personal service 
also. That which is spent for the individual) is of smaD 
value compared with service done for the race. It is on 



PUBLIC SERVICE v. PRIVATE EXPENDITURE loi 

the pains and sacrifice of individuals that a community is 
founded. " The pleasures of each generation evaporate in 
air ; it is their pains that increase the spiritual momentum 
of the world" (J. R. lUingworth, in Lux Mundi). The 
blood of the mart3n:s was the seed of the Church ; it is by 
heroism and unselfish devotion that a country rises and 
becomes great. 

The results of public spirit. — Witness the magnificent 
spectacle of Japan to-day ; the State above the individual ; 
common good above personal good ; sacrifice of self and 
devotion to the community ; these great qualities, on 
which every nation has risen to glory, were never displayed 
more brightly in the history of the world than now before 
our eyes. It is a nation which is saturated and infused 
with pubUc spirit, the spirit of the race, enthusiasm for the 
community and for the welfare of humanity. This is the 
spirit which elevates cities ; it is this which makes a 
nationality ; it is this which some day will renovate man- 
kind. 

A splendid article in The Times of last Tuesday calls it 
" the soul of a nation," a translation of the Japanese term 
Bushido. It is a sort of chivalry, but the term " chivalry " 
does not convey it ; our nearest approach to it is " pubhc 
spirit," public spirit in a glorified form, the spirit which 
animated the early Christian Church, so that prison, suffer- 
ing, death itself, were gladly endured so that the gospel 
might be preached and humanity might be saved — a spirit 
wtuch must be near akin to the divine idea of Sacrifice for 
the salvation of the world. To lose your Hfe as the highest 
mode of saving it ; to lose the world but retain the honour 
and dignity of your own soul ; that spirit which animated 
the apostles, prophets, martyrs, is alive in Japan to-day. 
Is it alive in us as a nation ? If not, if we have replaced it 
to any extent by some selfish opposite, by any such dia- 
boHcdly careless sentiment as " after me the deluge," 
then we as a nation have lost our soul, sold it for mere 
individual prosperity, sold it in some poor cases for not 
even that, for mere liquid refreshment, and we are on the 
down grade. 



102 SOCIALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM 

I trust it is not so, but sometimes I greatly fear it. It 
is surely not too late to arrest the process of decay ; the 
heart of the nation is sound enough : the men, as they said 
in South Africa, the men are splendid. Give them a fair 
chance, introduce better conditions, set' forth high ideals, 
and be not ashamed to speak of these ideals and to follow 
them ; thpn we shall find that there is plenty of the spirit 
of unselfishness still, the spirit which calls men to harder 
tasks than momentary spurts of bravery, calls us all to the 
long and persistent effort of educating ourselves in the 
facts of the universe, grasping the reaJi truth of things, 
and then, with patience and self-control, appl5dng our 
energies to the material betterment and spiritual elevation 
of the world. 



THE END 



HX 246.367""""""™""-"'"'^ 



Socialism and individualism 




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